What does necessity mean?

Definitions for necessity
nəˈsɛs ɪ tine·ces·si·ty

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word necessity.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. necessitynoun

    the condition of being essential or indispensable

  2. necessity, essential, requirement, requisite, necessarynoun

    anything indispensable

    "food and shelter are necessities of life"; "the essentials of the good life"; "allow farmers to buy their requirements under favorable conditions"; "a place where the requisites of water fuel and fodder can be obtained"


  1. necessitynoun

    The quality or state of being necessary, unavoidable, or absolutely requisite.

    I bought a new table out of necessity. My old one was ruined.

  2. necessitynoun

    The condition of being needy or necessitous; pressing need; indigence; want.

  3. necessitynoun

    That which is necessary; a requisite; something indispensable.

  4. necessitynoun

    That which makes an act or an event unavoidable; irresistible force; overruling power; compulsion, physical or moral; fate; fatality.

  5. necessitynoun

    The negation of freedom in voluntary action; the subjection of all phenomena, whether material or spiritual, to inevitable causation; necessitarianism.

  6. Etymology: From necessite, from necessite, from necessitas, from necesse; see necessary.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Necessitynoun

    Etymology: necessitas, Latin.

    Necessity and chance
    Approach not me; and what I will is fate. John Milton.

    Urge the necessity, and state of times. William Shakespeare, Rich. III.

    Racine used the chorus in his Esther, but not that he found any necessity of it: it was only to give the ladies an occasion of entertaining the king with vocal musick. John Dryden, Dufresnoy.

    We see the necessity of an augmentation, to bring the enemy to reason. Addison.

    The art of our necessities is strange,
    That can make vile things precious. William Shakespeare, K. Lear.

    The cause of all the distractions in his court or army, proceeded from the extreme poverty, and necessity his majesty was in. Edward Hyde, b. viii.

    We are first to consult our own necessities, but then the necessities of our neighbours have a christian right to a part of what we have to spare. Roger L'Estrange, Fable 217.

    These should be hours for necessities,
    Not for delights; times to repair our nature
    With comforting repose, and not for us
    To waste these times. William Shakespeare, Henry VIII.

    There never was a man of solid understanding, whose apprehensions are sober, and by a pensive inspection advised, but that he hath found by an irresistible necessity, one true God and everlasting being. Walter Raleigh, History.

    Good nature or beneficence and candour, is the product of right reason, which of necessity will give allowance to the failings of others. Dryden.


  1. necessity

    Necessity refers to the condition or quality of being necessary, indispensable, or absolutely essential. It can involve anything which is unavoidably determined by prior conditions or circumstances, or laws of nature. In philosophy, it's a term used to indicate something that must be the case or cannot be otherwise. In law, it refers to a plea justifying an otherwise illegal act on the grounds that it was required to prevent an imminent and greater harm.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Necessitynoun

    the quality or state of being necessary, unavoidable, or absolutely requisite; inevitableness; indispensableness

  2. Necessitynoun

    the condition of being needy or necessitous; pressing need; indigence; want

  3. Necessitynoun

    that which is necessary; a necessary; a requisite; something indispensable; -- often in the plural

  4. Necessitynoun

    that which makes an act or an event unavoidable; irresistible force; overruling power; compulsion, physical or moral; fate; fatality

  5. Necessitynoun

    the negation of freedom in voluntary action; the subjection of all phenomena, whether material or spiritual, to inevitable causation; necessitarianism


  1. Necessity

    In U.S. criminal law, necessity may be either a possible justification or an exculpation for breaking the law. Defendants seeking to rely on this defense argue that they should not be held liable for their actions as a crime because their conduct was necessary to prevent some greater harm and when that conduct is not excused under some other more specific provision of law such as self defense. Except for a few statutory exemptions and in some medical cases there is no corresponding defense in English law. For example, a drunk driver might contend that he drove his car to get away from a kidnap. Most common law and civil law jurisdictions recognize this defense, but only under limited circumstances. Generally, the defendant must affirmatively show that the harm he sought to avoid outweighs the danger of the prohibited conduct he is charged with; he had no reasonable alternative; he ceased to engage in the prohibited conduct as soon as the danger passed; and he did not himself create the danger he sought to avoid. Thus, with the "drunk driver" example cited above, the necessity defense will not be recognized if the defendant drove further than was reasonably necessary to get away from the kidnapper, or if some other reasonable alternative was available to him. However case law suggests necessity is narrowed to medical cases.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Necessity

    ne-ses′i-ti, n. state or quality of being necessary: that which is necessary or unavoidable: compulsion: great need: poverty.—ns. Necessitā′rian; Necessitā′rianism, necessarianism.—v.t. Necess′itāte, to make necessary: to render unavoidable: to compel.—n. Necessitā′tion.—adjs. Necess′itied (Shak.), in a state of want; Necess′itous, in necessity: very poor: destitute.—adv. Necess′itously.—n. Necess′itousness.—Natural necessity, the condition of being necessary according to the laws of nature; Logical or Mathematical, according to those of human intelligence; Moral, according to those of moral law; Works of necessity, work so necessary as to be allowable on the Sabbath. [L. necessitas.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. necessity

    If a ship be compelled by necessity to change the order of the places to which she is insured, this is not deemed deviation, and the underwriters are still liable.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'necessity' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #4829

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'necessity' in Nouns Frequency: #1806

How to pronounce necessity?

How to say necessity in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of necessity in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of necessity in Pythagorean Numerology is: 2

Examples of necessity in a Sentence

  1. Karl Marx:

    Necessity is blind until it becomes conscious. Freedom is the consciousness of necessity.

  2. Mark Twain:

    Necessity is the mother of taking chances.

  3. President Obama:

    Today, high-speed broadband is not a luxury. It's a necessity, this is about helping local businesses grow and prosper and compete in the global economy.

  4. John Milton:

    Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions for opinions in good men is but knowledge in the making.

  5. Scott Lout:

    If we’re doing the same work 20 years on, it’s no longer acceptable for anyone, even if the necessity requires it.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for necessity

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"necessity." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 29 Nov. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/necessity>.

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    established or prearranged unalterably
    • A. adscripted
    • B. contagious
    • C. ravening
    • D. foreordained

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