1 to have an earnest wish to own or enjoy2 to have as a requirement
- that stray cat wants food and a clean place to sleep4 to wish to have
- I want some ice cream for dessert, please1 the fact or state of being absent
- the proverb that begins, "for want of a nail, the shoe was lost"2 a falling short of an essential or desirable amount or number
- there's a notable want of teachers in that rural school district3 a state of being without something necessary, desirable, or useful
- those children are in want of some good discipline
4 the state of lacking sufficient money or material possessions5 a defect in character
- she's well-meaning and kind, but her besetting want is a complete lack of tactSee the Dictionary Definition
Frequently Asked Questions About want
How does the verb want differ from other similar words?
Some common synonyms of want are covet, crave, desire, and wish. While all these words mean "to have a longing for," want specifically suggests a felt need or lack.
wants to have a family
When is it sensible to use covet instead of want?
While the synonyms covet and want are close in meaning, covet implies strong envious desire.
covets his rise to fame
When is crave a more appropriate choice than want?
In some situations, the words crave and want are roughly equivalent. However, crave stresses the force of physical appetite or emotional need.
When might desire be a better fit than want?
Although the words desire and want have much in common, desire stresses the strength of feeling and often implies strong intention or aim.
desires to start a new life
In what contexts can wish take the place of want?
The words wish and want can be used in similar contexts, but wish sometimes implies a general or transient longing especially for the unattainable.
wishes for permanent world peace
Cite this Entry
Want. Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/want. Accessed 9 Jun. 2022.MLA