In all its forms, want has to do with the lack of having and the desire to have. You can want or desire something you’d like, or you can be in want of something you need.

The word want goes back to the 12th century and the Old Norse language, where vanta meant "to be deficient," or “in want.” If someone keeps bugging you, you might lose patience and ask, "What do you want?" If you are seeking employment, check the "want ads" or look for signs saying "Help Wanted." If you are a "wanted criminal," you might have trouble getting hired.

Definitions of want
  1. noun
    the state of needing something that is absent or unavailable
    “for want of a nail the shoe was lost”
    synonyms: deficiency, lack
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    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
    absence by virtue of not occurring
    the state of being elsewhere than in particular place
    a deficiency of iron; results from inadequate iron in the diet or from hemorrhage
    type of:
    demand, need
    a condition requiring relief
  2. noun
    anything that is necessary but lacking
    “I tried to supply his wants
    synonyms: need
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    type of:
    essential, necessary, necessity, requirement, requisite
    anything indispensable
  3. noun
    a state of extreme poverty
    synonyms: deprivation, neediness, privation
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    type of:
    impoverishment, poorness, poverty
    the state of having little or no money and few or no material possessions
  4. noun
    a specific feeling of desire
    synonyms: wish, wishing
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    a mere wish, unaccompanied by effort to obtain
    type of:
    the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied state
  5. verb
    be without, lack; be deficient in
    want courtesy”
    want the strength to go on living”
    “flood victims wanting food and shelter”
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    type of:
    lack, miss
    be without
  6. verb
    have need of
    “This piano wants the attention of a competent tuner”
    synonyms: need, require
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    demand immediate action
    type of:
    have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)
  7. verb
    wish or demand the presence of
    “I want you here at noon!”
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    type of:
    request urgently and forcefully
  8. verb
    feel or have a desire for; want strongly
    “I want to go home now”
    “I want my own room”
    synonyms: desire
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    crave, hunger, lust, starve, thirst
    have a craving, appetite, or great desire for
    fancy, go for, take to
    have a fancy or particular liking or desire for
    feel or suffer from the lack of
    be optimistic; be full of hope; have hopes
    hope for; have a wish
    wish, wish well
    feel or express a desire or hope concerning the future or fortune of
    care, like, wish
    prefer or wish to do something
    itch, spoil
    have a strong desire or urge to do something
    want to have
    have as one's ambition
    feel like
    have an inclination for something or some activity
    begrudge, envy
    be envious of; set one's heart on
    lech after, lust after
    have a strong sexual desire for
    hanker, long, yearn
    desire strongly or persistently
    try to get or reach
    feel sad about the loss or absence of
    ache, languish, pine, yearn, yen
    have a desire for something or someone who is not present
    be the will of or have the will (to)
    desire, hope, trust
    expect and wish
    wish, long, or crave for (something, especially the property of another person)
    make a serious effort to attain something
    make a search (for)
  9. verb
    hunt or look for; want for a particular reason
    “Your former neighbor is wanted by the FBI”
    “Uncle Sam wants you”
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    type of:
    look for, search, seek
    try to locate or discover, or try to establish the existence of
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