A need is something essential: people need food, water, and shelter. When you lack them, you're in need.

Besides physical needs like sleep, people have lots of psychological needs: like for love and friendship. To pass an exam, you need to study. To lose weight, you need to exercise more and eat less. Drug addicts feel a physical need for their drug — so do smokers. Often, we feel we need things that we actually just want: like a new video game or car. When someone is trying hard to get something, they might say "I need it!"

Definitions of need

v have need of

require, want
demand immediate action
Type of:
have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)

v have or feel a need for

“always needing friends and money”

v require as useful, just, or proper

ask, call for, demand, involve, necessitate, postulate, require, take
claim, exact, take
take as an undesirable consequence of some event or state of affairs
eliminate, obviate, rid of
do away with
show 6 types...
hide 6 types...
claim, exact, take
take as an undesirable consequence of some event or state of affairs
require to be in a certain grammatical case, voice, or mood
require a specified depth for floating
require to lose, suffer, or sacrifice
cry for, cry out for
need badly or desperately
necessitate or exact

n a condition requiring relief

“she satisfied his need for affection”
“God has no need of men to accomplish His work”
show 10 types...
hide 10 types...
deficiency, lack, want
the state of needing something that is absent or unavailable
the condition of being essential or indispensable
the state of being absent
dearth, famine, shortage
an acute insufficiency
a deficiency or failure in neurological or mental functioning
mineral deficiency
lack of a mineral micronutrient that is essential for normal nutrition or metabolism
the condition of being short of something
stringency, tightness
a state occasioned by scarcity of money and a shortage of credit
the state of being absolutely required
the state of being urgent; an earnest and insistent necessity
Type of:
condition, status
a state at a particular time

n anything that is necessary but lacking

“he had sufficient means to meet his simple needs
Type of:
essential, necessary, necessity, requirement, requisite
anything indispensable

n 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

motivation, motive
show 21 types...
hide 21 types...
a motive for living
rational motive
a motive that can be defended by reasoning or logical argument
irrational motive
a motivation that is inconsistent with reason or logic
impulse, urge
an instinctive motive
ethical motive, ethics, morality, morals
motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
mental energy, psychic energy
an actuating force or factor
ground, reason
a rational motive for a belief or action
incentive, inducement, motivator
a positive motivational influence
deterrence, disincentive
a negative motivational influence
(psychology) an urge to withdraw or avoid a situation or an object
(psychology) an urge to accept or approach a situation or an object
Thanatos, death instinct, death wish
(psychoanalysis) an unconscious urge to die
irrational impulse
a strong spontaneous and irrational motivation
cacoethes, mania, passion
an irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action
itchy feet, wanderlust
very strong or irresistible impulse to travel
compulsion, obsession
an irrational motive for performing trivial or repetitive actions, even against your will
the pursuit of pleasure as a matter of ethical principle
conscience, moral sense, scruples, sense of right and wrong
motivation deriving logically from ethical or moral principles that govern a person's thoughts and actions
Christ Within, Inner Light, Light, Light Within
a divine presence believed by Quakers to enlighten and guide the soul
incitation, incitement, provocation
something that incites or provokes; a means of arousing or stirring to action
libidinal energy
(psychoanalysis) psychic energy produced by the libido
Type of:
psychological feature
a feature of the mental life of a living organism

n a state of extreme poverty or destitution

“a general state of need exists among the homeless”
indigence, pauperisation, pauperism, pauperization, penury
beggary, mendicancy, mendicity
the state of being a beggar or mendicant
Type of:
impoverishment, poorness, poverty
the state of having little or no money and few or no material possessions

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.