Definition of need in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Require (something) because it is essential or very important.

    ‘I need help now’
    with present participle ‘this shirt needs washing’
    with infinitive ‘they need to win tomorrow’
    • ‘In most hospitals the number of patients needing treatment far exceeded the number of cots available.’
    • ‘Indeed this is the precise opposite of what children currently need to learn.’
    • ‘Your support is urgently needed to ensure the success of this worthy endeavor.’
    • ‘The team now needs to understand the reasons for this.’
    • ‘The money is badly needed: attracting visitors is harder than ever.’
    • ‘Clinicians need to understand that this recommendation can reduce the risk of errors.’
    • ‘East Yorkshire pig farmers don't need reminding of that.’
    • ‘Permission is still needed on an individual case basis.’
    • ‘We need look no further than those supposed to represent our interests in government.’
    • ‘A student spotted the pistol in his clothes, and several distressed students needed counselling afterwards.’
    • ‘Volunteers are needed to ensure Toys for Tots is a successful campaign.’
    • ‘You only need to worry if he seems upset about rejection by friends.’
    • ‘At least one clarification is needed at this point, however.’
    • ‘Assistance is needed to keep the place tidy.’
    • ‘"He'll probably need counselling, " I whisper to the Boss.’
    • ‘Each attack requires a costly clean-up, using money which is desperately needed for other purposes.’
    • ‘New and regular donors are now needed in order to help keep pace with demand from the region's hospitals.’
    • ‘Everyone appreciates that the government urgently needs to address a wad of issues - the most obvious being poverty.’
    • ‘Volunteers are needed to look after some of Wiltshire's most popular historical sites.’
    • ‘The real question we need to ask is what is evil and what is good?’
    • ‘In a society where instant gratification is the norm, patience is a value our children sorely need to learn.’
    • ‘If you think your child needs stitches, call the doctor right away.’
    • ‘There is a pressing need to improve mechanisms to effectively prevent and deter acts of terrorism.’
    • ‘Another population of Asiatic lions is desperately needed in order to safeguard the survival of this subspecies.’
    obligatory, requisite, required, compulsory, mandatory, imperative, demanded, needed, called for, needful
    necessary, required, wanted, desired, lacking, called for
    require, be in need of, stand in need of, have need of, want, be in want of, be crying out for, be desperate for
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1not need something Not want to be subjected to something.
      ‘I don't need your sarcasm’
      • ‘So, the people of the Third World do not need injections of ‘aid’ or even well-meaning Peace Corps volunteers.’
      • ‘Society does not need journalists to be leftist bowdlerisers like John Pilger; nor does it want them to be malleable followers.’
      • ‘We do not need people to come and tell us the advantage of the location, trainable workforce, the diversity of the economy, and the recent stability in the forex markets.’
      • ‘Leeds FC do not need players like him and maintaining him will only continue to diminish and ultimately possibly ruin the reputation of Leeds FC.’
      • ‘They are the lowest form of political pond life and we do not need them.’
      • ‘God knows our players do not need their egos inflating any further.’
      • ‘Coun Ward said the city did not need ministers coming in with off-the-cuff solutions to Bradford's problems during flying visits.’
      • ‘We do not need our emotions manipulated any more than they have been.’
      • ‘We do not need roads filled with NBC - 2 vehicles containing anchorites powdering their noses in rear view mirrors.’
      • ‘And some companies are still hiring graduates because they do not need employees who have unrelated work experience.’
  • 2as modal, with negative or in questions Expressing necessity or obligation.

    ‘need I say more?’
    ‘I need not have worried’
    • ‘Olympiakos need only draw, but will carry to Anfield one of the poorest away records in the competition.’
    • ‘You need only go one stop on the tube to find a very different Britain.’
    have to, be under an obligation to, be obliged to, be compelled to, be under a compulsion to
    View synonyms
  • 3archaic no object Be necessary.

    ‘lest you, even more than needs, embitter our parting’


  • 1Circumstances in which something is necessary, or that require some course of action; necessity.

    ‘the basic human need for food’
    with infinitive ‘there's no need to cry’
    • ‘We need to acknowledge that there is a crisis and there is a need for change.’
    • ‘It advises that in cases involving some therapies there is a need for the public to be warned of any possible dangers.’
    • ‘A need for counting arose, then writing and numerals were needed to record transactions.’
    • ‘Present-day reality highlights the pressing need for the state's advance preparation for possible wars.’
    • ‘In these circumstances there is no need for an urgent debate on the subject today.’
    • ‘The reality is that many people are driven by an irrational need for speed.’
    • ‘There is also an opportunity to develop bespoke company training if the need arises.’
    • ‘Some people felt there would be a need for security cameras if the shop were re-opened.’
    • ‘Purvis rightly identifies a need for a more complete, more nuanced assessment.’
    • ‘It is apparent even from the outside that there is a need for a change on the Sligo-Dublin line.’
    • ‘Recently, I predicted that there was a need for Internet switching ability in a mobile phone.’
    • ‘Of course, this is being justified on the basis of society's need for protection against sexual crime.’
    • ‘She stressed that diabetes was a key cause of renal failure, leading to a need for dialysis.’
    • ‘So in some way there seems to be a need for a linkway between the Centre and the Museum complex.’
    • ‘There was a need for emergency type accommodation in Laois under the new strategy.’
    • ‘Chen also said the collision underlined the dire need for military confidence-building measures in the Taiwan Strait.’
    • ‘In an Australian context, we have a need for a final school year subject of this kind.’
    • ‘However, I cannot stress enough the continued need for vigilance.’
    • ‘There is no single procedure to replace the surgical patient's need for blood transfusion.’
    • ‘Clearly there is a need for a better understanding between the police and the community.’
    • ‘There is a need for us to continuously upgrade the quality of service we give to customers.’
    necessity, obligation, requirement, call, demand
    View synonyms
  • 2often needsA thing that is wanted or required.

    ‘his day-to-day needs’
    • ‘They understand that basic human needs are immediate - red tape doesn't feed a hungry person.’
    • ‘I am from England, of course, and, as such, consider rain to be part of my daily needs.’
    • ‘In all cases, projects are anchored to the curriculum and serve an unmet need in the community.’
    • ‘With the planner, consumers can devise eating plans to address specific nutritional needs.’
    • ‘I mean, he's already on the road holding town meetings on children's healthcare needs.’
    • ‘Blix strongly believes that nuclear energy is a prerequisite for satisfying the future energy needs of the world.’
    • ‘The limited amount of needs assessment undertaken by groups was a reflection of this.’
    • ‘Actually what my colleagues and I see is that children's mental health needs are not being recognized.’
    • ‘What are you doing to find out how your customers' needs are changing?’
    • ‘Within this framework, health care providers should take patients' needs into consideration.’
    • ‘So why haven't these stronger roles translated in greater pressure on governments to address urgent housing needs?’
    • ‘Make a real effort to understand your client's needs, goals and objectives.’
    • ‘More effort should be made to fulfill students' learning needs in the content area.’
    • ‘The vehicle can also be fitted with a whole range of items to suit the particular needs of specific customers.’
    • ‘We must take responsibility for the consequences of how we fulfill our basic human needs.’
    • ‘Sadly, the band's most recent work satisfies this desperate need to an alarming degree.’
    • ‘Universities must adapt to serve the changing needs of their users, as defined in some version of a market.’
    • ‘Bolton must adapt and change to meet the needs of the public if it wishes to thrive as it has in the past.’
    • ‘Ely highlights specific needs of the students age 25 and older.’
    • ‘Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population.’
    • ‘Petitioners were particularly concerned about children with special educational needs being co-located with Greenhead.’
    • ‘He explained that there were more than enough resources to satisfy all basic human needs.’
    requirement, essential, necessity, want, requisite, prerequisite, wish, demand
    View synonyms
  • 3The state of requiring help, or of lacking basic necessities such as food.

    ‘help us in our hour of need’
    ‘children in need’
    • ‘It is easy to see why the First Minister turned to Ward in an hour of need.’
    • ‘Yeadon have been grateful for a number of part-time cricketers helping them out in their hour of need.’
    • ‘I just hope that I can be of some small assistance to them in this their most urgent hour of need.’
    • ‘I ought to make myself useful to my homeland, to the best of my ability, in its hour of need.’
    • ‘We also know what cabinet ministers promised to succor them in their hour of need.’
    • ‘Dependent on their families, they simply didn't know who to turn to in their hour of need.’
    • ‘The Storm boss pleaded with supporters to stop moaning and get out and support the team in their hour of need.’
    • ‘If Otley fails to support its own in their hour of need or joy then it is a disgraceful state of affairs.’
    • ‘She's been a tower of strength to me in my hour of need and is a true friend.’
    • ‘Director Denise Carter urged the people of Bradford to make cash donations for Claire in her hour of need.’
    • ‘Most of us, no matter how poor, can find a doctor to take care of us in our hour of need.’
    • ‘It was fortunate that, in its hour of need, the country was able to call upon so capable a man.’
    • ‘Flo is just the kind of player Peter Reid didn't require in his hour of need.’
    • ‘Back in 1990, 375 people were accepted as homeless and in " priority housing need " in Southampton.’
    • ‘A pioneering telephone prayer line has been set up to reach villagers in their hour of need.’
    • ‘And he has decided to put the skills he has learned to good use by helping the Wasps in their hour of need.’
    • ‘The tartan taunts did not prevent him turning to a compatriot in his hour of need.’
    • ‘I am 74 years old and felt left alone with nobody to look after me in my hour of need.’
    • ‘If they persist, they may find that relativism will prove a poor friend in their hour of need.’
    • ‘How can they be available for a photo opportunity but not there to help people in their hour of need?’
    neediness, want, poverty, deprivation, privation, hardship, penury, destitution, indigence, impecuniousness
    difficulty, trouble, distress
    needy, requiring help, deprived, disadvantaged, underprivileged, in want, poor, badly off, unable to make ends meet, in reduced circumstances, in straitened circumstances, unable to keep the wolf from the door, impoverished, poverty-stricken, destitute, penurious, impecunious, indigent
    View synonyms


  • at need

    • archaic When needed; in an emergency.

      ‘men whose experience could be called upon at need’
      • ‘In truth, those fighting in the north were able to retreat westward at need, but their numbers and strength were sorely needed to help prevent, or at the least, hinder the Enemy from driving directly south through Alin.’
      • ‘Sydney was constantly by her side, ready to give her medication at need.’
      • ‘We have but a hundred competent horse, fifty more in training we could use as shock troops at need.’
      • ‘The room was dominated by an appropriately crude but sturdy-looking wooden table which looked as though it could seat at least twenty, or at need serve as a heavy workbench.’
      • ‘It becomes a tool, something you can use at need, not something that uses you.’
      • ‘There is to be no slaughtering of our beasts except at need.’
      • ‘It won't be quite as absorptive as the commercial variety, but it's a good deal cheaper and can be improvised at need.’
      • ‘It will be a perilous undertaking, but one which strong horses and experienced riders had done at need in the past.’
      • ‘At last there was the ringing of a clear silver bell and people began making their way to the tables, which were set in long lines so that all could see and hear Baldric, and could rise to their feet and speak and be heard at need themselves.’
      • ‘He fingered the sword's handle at his belt and readied himself to pull it from the sheath at need.’
      • ‘James spoke little, their routine for the last year that they were silent for most of the day, speaking only at need to each other.’
      • ‘The spears that they carry - frameae is the native word - have short and narrow heads, but are so sharp and easy to handle, that the same weapon serves at need for close or distant fighting.’
      • ‘The elf's arms were steady on his weapon, ready to snap the bowstring at need.’
  • had need

    • archaic Ought to.

      ‘you had need hire men to chip it all over artistically’
  • if need be

    • If necessary.

      • ‘The room is quite large, it happens to be fitted for at least two girls to spend the night in if need be.’
      • ‘You must take action, drastic action if need be, to remove as much of the stress from your life as possible.’
      • ‘The place is accessible from the Intracoastal, so they can move in and out during the night if need be.’
      • ‘This scarifies the hard coating on the outside which protects them for years if need be.’
      • ‘Such miscreants should be fined heavily and if need be even imprisoned.’
      • ‘The recipe said to substitute mozzarella if need be, and I think that's what I'll do next time.’
      • ‘Liverpool City Council have fitted a series of kiosks throughout the city to allow people to interact with them quickly if need be.’
      • ‘I pointed him in the right direction and have offered to copy and send the files to him myself if need be.’
      • ‘Be brutally honest, if need be, and let them know that there is a chance that their best may not be good enough to take them to the top of the tree.’
      • ‘The other major powers are keen for the EU to press ahead with the Kyoto protocol without the US if need be.’
      • ‘The course doesn't start until May, so there's still time to chicken out, if need be.’
      • ‘We already sell a lot of vegetable-based dishes so it wouldn't be a problem to introduce more if need be.’
      • ‘I can do the usual stuff like cook, which I thoroughly enjoy, clean, iron and if need be, sew.’
      • ‘He added that, if need be, fire crews should be able to cut through a rope.’
      • ‘Services of such experts can be requisitioned from the government of India, if need be.’
      • ‘So it's a fairly long process, and, if need be, they can actually get extensions of time.’
      • ‘Hecklers can be removed, if need be, for the relatively minor offence of being disorderly.’
      • ‘Pass a law if need be, so that the government cannot use the money in their general budgeting.’
      • ‘Stake out the village at night with infra-red cameras and the SAS if need be.’
      • ‘No right thinking person ever looks at spam, it is a modern scourge that should be eradicated, by violent means if need be.’
      if necessary, with difficulty, in case of necessity, if need be, in an emergency, just possibly
      View synonyms
  • in need of

    • Requiring or needing (something)

      ‘he was in desperate need of medical care’
      • ‘We were both in need of a vacation so we decided to come back to St Lucia for the sun, sea and sand.’
      • ‘The five bedroom property is in need of refurbishment, yet it has potential.’
      • ‘Her drama classes attract budding actors and also youngsters in need of a confidence boost.’
      • ‘In addition, say the consultants, the facility is in need of major refurbishment.’
      • ‘The contract will pave the way for more patients in need of urgent treatment to be seen on the NHS.’
      • ‘Sir, I am sure that I am not alone in feeling that Council Tax is unfair and in need of reform.’
      • ‘Of course the finance industry is not the only place in need of of some house cleaning.’
      • ‘I'm definitely in need of a break and my forthcoming week off is much anticipated.’
      • ‘The resulting funding slowdown comes as Michigan schools are in dire need of repair.’
      • ‘This underfunding means buildings, streets and pavements are all in need of repair.’
      • ‘The walls were stained and the floor was in dire need of repair.’
      • ‘I am due to retire next year and will be able to offer my services to the many groups that are in need of volunteers.’
      • ‘People in urgent need of money and eager to make quick profits are lured into them.’
      • ‘The shop is also in need of good quality items to sell such as clothes, books and bric-a-brac.’
      • ‘The house was in need of a serious clean sure enough, and I've spent much of the day catching up.’
      • ‘The three-bedroom house comprises 102 square metres of accommodation and is in need of refurbishment.’
      • ‘Yet I feel in need of a cool drink at the end of an unbelievably stressful week.’
      • ‘The central concepts of this work remain disputed and in need of close scholarly argument.’
      • ‘Few topics in education are more important or more urgently in need of reform.’
      • ‘The church at Eldroth had been used as a school and was in need of redecoration and refurbishment.’
  • have need of

    • formal Need.

      ‘Alida had need of company’
      • ‘Any radiation specialist medical personnel we have are at your disposal, if you have need of them.’
      • ‘Study groups now became secret societies, like the ‘Land and Liberty’ society at St Petersburg, but they had need of wider support.’
      • ‘I've had need of seeing the Black Seer on a few occasions.’
      • ‘Butte, Montana's largest urban center, had need of such a home.’
      • ‘These impersonal, brief interactions were all I had need of for quite a while.’
      • ‘In a hammering irony, the people who had feared the importing of industrial unrest from Europe now had need of that tool in fighting the interlopers.’
      • ‘It became the fighter-transport of choice for all branches of the military that had need of its rather unique insertion/extraction abilities.’
      • ‘A few weeks ago, you may recall that I had need of the RAC's assistance, and received appalling service. Of course, I wrote to complain about this.’
      • ‘Before I was your foreign minister, I performed the same services for Danton and Robespierre until they no longer had need of me.’
      • ‘They had need of us, and we had come, to act the age-old ritual, try to lift the curse from off their lands, give back to ailing Earth the potency their lives depended on.’
      • ‘Each of course had need of the other and a certain innate mutual loyalty ensured that they accompanied each other even when it came to the point of allowing the standards of the past to slip.’
      • ‘I was a very small boy the last time our master had need of extending his life, and I was called to attend upon him while he performed his magic.’
      • ‘My poor old mum who was 90 at the time, had need of help from Social Services: stairlift, bath lift etc.’
      • ‘Counting the coins I handed half of them to Niko to purchase horses, blankets and bedding, and lanterns as well as any other necessities he believed we had need of.’
      • ‘She left the door open in case her Mistress had need of her.’
      • ‘They had need of a wife and heirs and the women had need of wealth and a title.’
      • ‘I had need for a refreshing walk away from this place, nothing more.’
      • ‘In the six months before its arrival, I had had need of one on two occasions.’
      • ‘‘We hadn't had need for them during the battle, so we didn't miss them,’ Jack said.’
      • ‘Its only real use is as a football ground and there are no league clubs who have need of it.’


Old English nēodian (verb), nēod, nēd (noun), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch nood and German Not ‘danger’.