see also: Want
  • (British) enPR: wŏnt, IPA: /wɒnt/
  • (America) enPR wŏnt IPA: /wɑnt/, /wʌnt/, /wɔnt/
  • (Aus) enPR: wŏnt, IPA: /wɔnt/
  • (New Zealand) enPR wŏnt, IPA: /wɔnt/, /wɐnt/

want (wants, present participle wanting; past and past participle wanted)

  1. (transitive) To wish for or desire (something); to feel a need or desire for; to crave or demand. [from 18th c.]
    What do you want to eat?  I want you to leave.  I never wanted to go back to live with my mother.
    • 2016, [https://web.archive.org/web/20170918070146/https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/lets-learn-english-lesson-3-i-am-here/3126527.html VOA Learning English] (public domain)
      I want to find a supermarket. — Oh, okay. The supermarket is at 1500 Irving Street. It is near the apartment. — Great!
  2. (transitive, in particular) To wish, desire or demand to see, have the presence of or do business with.
    Ma’am, you are exactly the professional we want for this job.
    Danish police want him for embezzlement.
    • 2010, Fred Vargas, The Chalk Circle Man, Vintage Canada (ISBN 9780307374035), page 75:
      But now it's different, if the police want him for murder.
  3. (intransitive) To desire#Verb|desire (to experience desire#Noun|desire); to wish.
    You can leave if you want.
    • 2019 May 5, "The Last of the Starks", Game of Thrones season 8 episode 4 (written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss):
      TYRION: You don't want it?
      BRAN: I don't really want anymore.
  4. (colloquial, usually second person, often future tense) To be advised to do something (compare should, ought).
    You’ll want to repeat this three or four times to get the best result.
  5. (transitive, now colloquial) To lack and be in need of or require (something, such as a noun or verbal noun). [from 15th c.]
    • 1741, The Gentleman's and London Magazine: Or Monthly Chronologer, 1741-1794, page 559:
      The lady, it is said, will inherit a fortune of three hundred pounds a year, with two cool thousands left by an uncle, on her arriving at the age of twenty-one, of which she wants but a few months.
    • 1839, Chambers's Journal, page 123:
      Oh Jeanie, it will be hard, after every thing is ready for our happiness, if we should be sundered. It wants but a few days o' Martinmas, and then I maun enter on my new service on Loch Rannoch, where a bonny shieling is ready ...
    • 1847, The American Protestant, page 27:
      In this we have just read an address to children in England, Ireland, and Scotland, in behalf of children who want food to keep them from starvation.
    • 1866, Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 7:
      “Your hair wants cutting,” said the Hatter. He had been looking at Alice for some time with great curiosity, and this was his first speech.
    • 1922, Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room, Chapter 2:
      The mowing-machine always wanted oiling. Barnet turned it under Jacob's window, and it creaked—creaked, and rattled across the lawn and creaked again.
    That chair wants fixing.
  6. (transitive, now rare) To have occasion for (something requisite or useful); to require or need.
    • , Edward Young, Night Thoughts:
      Man wants but little, nor that little long.
    • 1776, Oliver Goldsmith, Hermit, in The Vicar of Wakefield:
      Man wants but little here below, nor wants that little long.
    • Walden (link):
      [...] for my greatest skill has been to want but little.
  7. (intransitive, dated) To be lacking or deficient or absent. [from 13th c.]
    There was something wanting in the play.
    • The disposition, the manners, and the thoughts are all before it; where any of those are wanting or imperfect, so much wants or is imperfect in the imitation of human life.
    • 1709, [Alexander Pope], An Essay on Criticism, London: Printed for W. Lewis […], published 1711, OCLC 15810849 ↗:
      For as in bodies, thus in souls, we find / What wants in blood and spirits, swelled with wind.
  8. (intransitive, dated) To be in a state of destitution; to be needy; to lack.
    • c. 1605-1606, Ben Jonson, Volpone (The Fox)
      You have a gift, sir (thank your education), / Will never let you want.
    The paupers desperately want.
  9. (transitive, archaic) To lack and be without, to not have (something). [from 13th c.]
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: […], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970 ↗, partition II, section 3, member 7:
      he that hath skill to be a pilot wants a ship; and he that could govern a commonwealth […] wants means to exercise his worth, hath not a poor office to manage.
    • Not what we wish, but what we want, / Oh, let thy grace supply!
    • I observed […] that your whip wanted a lash to it.
    She wanted anything she needed.
  10. (transitive, obsolete, by extension) To lack and (be able to) do without.
    • 1797, The European Magazine, and London Review, page 226:
      For Law, Physick and Divinitie, need so the help of tongs and sciences, as thei can not want them, and yet thei require so a hole mans studie, as thei may parte with no tyme to other lerning, ...
Synonyms Translations Noun


  1. (countable) A desire, wish, longing.
  2. (countable, often, followed by of) Lack, absence.
    • For Want of a Nail:
      For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
      For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
      For want of a horse the rider was lost.
      For want of a rider the battle was lost.
      For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
      And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
    • circa 1591 William Shakespeare, King Henry VI Part 2, act 4, sc. 8:
      [H]eavens and honour be witness, that no want of resolution in me, but only my followers' base and ignominious treasons, makes me betake me to my heels.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Job 24:8 ↗:
      They are wet with the showres of the mountaines, and imbrace the rocke for want of a shelter.
  3. (uncountable) Poverty.
    • 1713, Jonathan Swift, A Preface to Bishop Burnet's Introduction
      Nothing is so hard for those who abound in riches, as to conceive how others can be in want.
  4. Something needed or desired; a thing of which the loss is felt.
    • Habitual superfluities become actual wants.
  5. (UK, mining) A depression in coal strata, hollowed out before the subsequent deposition took place.
Translations Translations Translations
Proper noun
  1. A personification of want.

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