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[need] /nid/
a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation:
There is no need for you to go there.
a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary:
to fulfill the needs of the assignment.
urgent want, as of something requisite:
He has no need of your charity.
necessity arising from the circumstances of a situation or case:
There is no need to worry.
a situation or time of difficulty; exigency:
to help a friend in need; to be a friend in need.
a condition marked by the lack of something requisite:
the need for leadership.
destitution; extreme poverty:
The family's need is acute.
verb (used with object)
to have need of; require:
to need money.
verb (used without object)
to be under an obligation (used as an auxiliary, typically in an interrogative or in a negative statement, and followed by infinitive, in certain cases without to; in the 3d person singular the form is need, not needs):
He need not go.
to be in need or want.
to be necessary:
There needs no apology.
if need be, should the necessity arise:
If need be, I can type the letters myself.
Origin of need
before 900; (noun) Middle English nede, Old English nēd (WSaxon nīed), cognate with German Not, Old Norse nauth, Gothic nauths; (v.) Middle English neden, Old English nēodian, derivative of the noun
Related forms
needer, noun
unneeded, adjective
well-needed, adjective
2, 3. See lack. 3. requirement. 4. Need, necessity imply a want, a lack, or a demand, which must be filled. Need, a word of Old English origin, has connotations that make it strong in emotional appeal: the need to be appreciated. Necessity, a word of Latin origin, is more formal and impersonal or objective; though much stronger than need in expressing urgency or imperative demand, it is less effective in appealing to the emotions: Water is a necessity for living things. 5. emergency. 7. neediness, indigence, penury, privation. See poverty. 8. want, lack.
7. wealth. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for unneeded
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mrs. Methven had been deeply touched by her son's all unneeded apology for leaving her.

    The Wizard's Son, vol. 3 Margaret Oliphant
  • There is not one will dare to question me, Sir, and your caution is unneeded.

    Luttrell Of Arran Charles James Lever
  • There are no social conditions; there are no unneeded legal restrictions.

    Speeches of Benjamin Harrison Benjamin Harrison
  • Latent psi-power, dormant and unused and unneeded and uninteresting for aeons.

    Earthsmith Milton Lesser
  • And Smoke sank down beside her, a wan sneer on his face for the automatism that had made him struggle for an unneeded fire.

    Smoke Bellew Jack London
  • "Your reproaches are unneeded," she replied, slowly and wearily.

    Under Two Flags Ouida [Louise de la Ramee]
  • The monographs called for above would, then, be a not unneeded work.

British Dictionary definitions for unneeded


(transitive) to be in want of: to need money
(transitive) to require or be required of necessity (to be or do something); be obliged: to need to do more work
(takes an infinitive without to) used as an auxiliary in negative and interrogative sentences to express necessity or obligation, and does not add -s when used with he, she, it, and singular nouns: need he go?
(intransitive) (archaic) to be essential or necessary to: there needs no reason for this
the fact or an instance of feeling the lack of something: he has need of a new coat
a requirement: the need for vengeance
necessity or obligation resulting from some situation: no need to be frightened
distress or extremity: a friend in need
extreme poverty or destitution; penury
See also needs
Word Origin
Old English nēad, nied; related to Old Frisian nēd, Old Saxon nōd, Old High German nōt
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 unneeded

1725, from un- (1) "not" + past participle of need (v.).



Old English nied (West Saxon), ned (Mercian) "necessity, compulsion, duty; hardship, distress; errand, business," originally "violence, force," from Proto-Germanic *nauthis (cf. Old Saxon nod, Old Norse nauðr, Old Frisian ned, Middle Dutch, Dutch nood, Old High German not, German Not, Gothic nauþs "need"), probably cognate with Old Prussian nautin "need," and perhaps with Old Church Slavonic nazda, Russian nuzda, Polish nędza "misery, distress," from PIE *nau- "death, to be exhausted" (see narwhal).

The more common Old English word for "need, necessity, want" was ðearf, but they were connected via a notion of "trouble, pain," and the two formed a compound, niedðearf "need, necessity, compulsion, thing needed." Nied also might have been influenced by Old English neod "desire, longing," which often was spelled the same. Common in Old English compounds, e.g. niedfaru "compulsory journey," a euphemism for "death;" niedhæmed "rape," the second element being an Old English word meaning "sexual intercourse;" niedling "slave." Meaning "extreme poverty, destitution" is from c.1200.


Old English neodian "be necessary, be required (for some purpose); require, have need of," from the same root as need (n.). Meaning "to be under obligation (to do something)" is from late 14c. Related: Needed; needing. The adjectival phrase need-to-know is attested from 1952. Dismissive phrase who needs it?, popular from c.1960, is a translated Yiddishism.

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


In addition to the idiom beginning with need also see: cry for (crying need for).
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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