(1)   The psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior
"We did not understand his motivation"
"He acted with the best of motives"
(2)   Anything that is necessary but lacking
"He had sufficient means to meet his simple needs"
"I tried to supply his wants"
(3)   A condition requiring relief
"She satisfied his need for affection"
"God has no need of men to accomplish His work"
"There is a demand for jobs"
(4)   A state of extreme poverty or destitution
"Their indigence appalled him"
"A general state of need exists among the homeless"


(5)   Have need of
"This piano wants the attention of a competent tuner"
(6)   Have or feel a need for
"Always needing friends and money"
(7)   Require as useful, just, or proper
"It takes nerve to do what she did"
"Success usually requires hard work"
"This job asks a lot of patience and skill"
"This position demands a lot of personal sacrifice"
"This dinner calls for a spectacular dessert"
"This intervention does not postulate a patient's consent"


  1. Something required.
    I've always tried to have few needs beyond food, clothing and shelter.

Usage notes
  • Adjectives often used with "need": physiological, psychological, emotional, psychosocial, human, special, basic, etc.


  1. : To have an absolute requirement for.
    Living things need water to survive.
  2. : To want strongly; to feel that one must have something.
    After ten days of hiking, I needed a shower and a shave.
  3. To be obliged or required to.
    You need not go if you don't want to.

Usage notes
  • The verb need is construed in a few different ways:
    • With a direct object, as in "I need your help."
    • With a to-infinitive, as in "I need to go." In this use, need is a subject-control verb, except when the infinitive's subject is explicitly provided by a for phrase, as in "I need for this to happen."
    • With a direct object and a to-infinitive, as in "I need this to happen." This construction is synonymous with the previous construction, with for; that is, the direct object is semantically the subject of the infinitive. Hence, need is an object-raising verb.
    • As a modal verb, with a bare infinitive; only in the negative, as in "It need not happen today." Need in this use does not have inflected forms.
    • Rarely, with a past participle, as in "Something needs done", which is synonymous with "Something needs to be done." Note that many speakers do not find this construction to be acceptable.
    • Colloquially, in the construction "I need me <direct object>", which is a more emphatic version of "I need <direct object>."