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[nuh-ses-i-tee] /nəˈsɛs ɪ ti/
noun, plural necessities.
something necessary or indispensable:
food, shelter, and other necessities of life.
the fact of being necessary or indispensable; indispensability:
the necessity of adequate housing.
an imperative requirement or need for something:
the necessity for a quick decision.
the state or fact of being necessary or inevitable:
to face the necessity of testifying in court.
an unavoidable need or compulsion to do something:
not by choice but by necessity.
a state of being in financial need; poverty:
a family in dire necessity.
Philosophy. the quality of following inevitably from logical, physical, or moral laws.
of necessity, as an inevitable result; unavoidably; necessarily:
Our trip to China must of necessity be postponed for a while.
Origin of necessity
1325-75; Middle English necessite < Latin necessitās, equivalent to necess(e) needful + -itās -ity
Related forms
nonnecessity, noun, plural nonnecessities.
supernecessity, noun, plural supernecessities.
3. demand. See need. 6. neediness, indigence, want. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for necessity
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Or from what necessity did the son of Atreus, assembling an army, lead it hither?

  • To Kate, for instance, she was a necessity of existence, like light or air.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • It was sacrificed in 1880 to the necessity of raising a fortress on the hill.

    Pagan and Christian Rome Rodolfo Lanciani
  • She made a virtue of necessity; and the man was quite another man with her. '

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • The necessity for and the advisability of spraying have already been pointed out.

    Apple Growing M. C. Burritt
British Dictionary definitions for necessity


noun (pl) -ties
(sometimes pl) something needed for a desired result; prerequisite: necessities of life
a condition or set of circumstances, such as physical laws or social rules, that inevitably requires a certain result: it is a matter of necessity to wear formal clothes when meeting the Queen
the state or quality of being obligatory or unavoidable
urgent requirement, as in an emergency or misfortune: in time of necessity we must all work together
poverty or want
(rare) compulsion through laws of nature; fate
  1. a condition, principle, or conclusion that cannot be otherwise
  2. the constraining force of physical determinants on all aspects of life Compare freedom (sense 8)
  1. the property of being necessary
  2. a statement asserting that some property is essential or statement is necessarily true
  3. the operator that indicates that the expression it modifies is true in all possible worlds Usual symbol □,
of necessity, inevitably; necessarily
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for necessity

late 14c., "constraining power of circumstances," from Old French necessité "need, necessity; privation, poverty; distress, torment; obligation, duty" (12c.), from Latin necessitatem (nominative necessitas) "compulsion, need for attention, unavoidableness, destiny," from necesse (see necessary). Meaning "condition of being in need" in English is from late 15c.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention. [Richard Franck, c.1624-1708, English author and angler, "Northern Memoirs," 1658]
To maken vertu of necessite is in Chaucer. Related: Necessities.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with necessity


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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