Meaning of NEED in English

I. need 1 S1 W1 /niːd/ BrE AmE verb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ need , needs, the needy; adjective : ↑ needless , ↑ needy ; verb : ↑ need ; adverb : ↑ needlessly ]

1 . [transitive not in progressive] to have to have something or someone, because you cannot do something without them, or because you cannot continue or cannot exist without them SYN require :

You don’t really need a car.

Plants need light in order to survive.

The camcorder needs a new battery.

Are you sure that you have everything you need?

need something for something

I need glasses for reading.

need somebody to do something

I need you to help me with the cooking.

need something desperately/badly/urgently

More blood donors are urgently needed.

much needed/badly needed

a much needed boost to the local economy

2 . [transitive not in progressive] to feel that you want something very much:

I need a drink.

If you need anything, just say.

need to do something

She needed to go out for a walk.

3 . need to do something used when saying that someone should do something or has to do something:

He needs to see a doctor straightaway.

I need to catch up on my office work.

You need to let me know by Monday if you want to take part.

4 . [modal] British English used in negative sentences when saying that something is not necessary or not always true ⇨ have to

need not/needn’t

You needn’t stay long.

Going to the dentist need not necessarily be a painful experience.

need not have done something/need not do something

You needn’t have spent all that money.

I needn’t have worried.

need I/we etc do something? British English old-fashioned :

Need we leave so soon?

somebody need never do something

Jim need never find out what I said.

5 . [transitive] used when saying that something should have something done to it, or has to have something done to it

something needs doing

The house needed painting.

Does this shirt need ironing?

something needs to be checked/cleaned/done etc

The engine will need to be completely checked.

The pie doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

need a (good) wash/clean/cut etc (=ought to be washed, cleaned etc)

His hair needs a wash.

6 . [transitive] if a job needs a quality or skill, you must have that quality or skill in order to do it well:

The job needs a lot of patience.

Being a teacher needs a high level of motivation.

7 . I need hardly say/tell/remind etc British English used when you think people should already know what you are going to say:

I need hardly remind you that this information is confidential.

8 . you need only do something/all you need do is ... British English used when saying that you only have to do something in order to do something else:

We need only look at the building to see how much money it will take to repair.

All we need do is threaten them.

9 . need I ask/need I say more/need I go on etc? British English used to say that it is not necessary to ask or say more about something, because the rest is clear:

She’s lazy, slow, and stubborn. Need I say more?

10 . that’s all I need/that’s just what I didn’t need spoken used when saying that you did not want something to happen, especially when it seems annoying:

‘There’s a customer for you on the phone.’ ‘That’s all I need!’

11 . need something like a hole in the head informal used when saying that you definitely do not need something

12 . who needs it/them? spoken

a) used to say you are not interested in something:

Make-up, who needs it?

b) used to say that someone or something is actually very important to you:

Kids? Who needs them!

• • •


Verb patterns

You can say that you need to do something:

I need to clean (NOT I need clean) the house.

If someone else is going to do something for you, you can say that you need something done :

I need my car fixed urgently.

When you are talking about the object that is going to have something done to it, you can say that it needs cutting, cleaning etc or needs to be cut, cleaned etc :

My hair needs cutting.

That box needs to be moved (NOT needs moved).


You can say that you don’t need to do something or need not/needn’t do something:

I don’t need to leave (NOT don’t need leave) until 10.

You needn’t apologize (NOT needn’t to apologize).

Need not means that it is not necessary to do something. Do not use it to mean must not (=should not, or are not allowed to):

You needn’t take any money.

You mustn’t take any sharp objects on the plane.

If you say that someone needn’t have done something, you mean that it was not necessary for them to do it although they did it anyway:

We needn’t have ordered so much food.

Do not use it when something was not necessary and was not done. Use didn’t need to :

I didn’t need to tell him who I was – he already knew.

• • •


▪ need if you need something, you must have it, because you cannot do something without it:

I need your help.


The people desperately need food and clean water.

▪ require formal to need something:

Children require a lot of attention.


The game requires great skill.

▪ can’t do without something to be unable to do something without something:

A lot of people can’t do without their mobile phones.

▪ could do with something/could use something informal to need or want something:

Shall we stop? I could do with a rest.

▪ be desperate for something to need something urgently:

Liz was desperate for a cigarette.


The people are desperate for food.

▪ be dependent on something/somebody to be unable to live or continue normally without something or someone:

The refugees are dependent on outside food supplies.

▪ demand formal if one thing demands another, it needs that thing in order to happen or be done successfully:

The situation is urgent and demands immediate action.

II. need 2 S1 W1 BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ need , needs, the needy; adjective : ↑ needless , ↑ needy ; verb : ↑ need ; adverb : ↑ needlessly ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: nied , ned ]

1 . [singular] a situation in which something is necessary, especially something that is not happening yet or is not yet available

need for

There’s a growing need for new housing in many rural areas.

a need to do something

We fully recognize the need to improve communications.

2 . [singular, uncountable] a strong feeling that you want something, want to do something, or that you must have something

need for

the need for job satisfaction

feel the need (to do something)

Jack did not feel the need to boast about his success.

You’re welcome to come back and talk any time, if ever you feel the need.

3 . [countable usually plural] what someone needs to have in order to live a normal healthy comfortable life:

She works to provide for her family’s basic needs.

sb’s needs

Environmentalists argue that the organization fails to address the needs of third world farmers.

meet/satisfy a need (=provide something that people want or need)

The charity exists to meet the needs of elderly people.

Schools must satisfy the needs of their pupils.

We have loans to meet your every need.

4 . there’s no need (for somebody) to do something

a) used to say that someone does not have to do something:

There’s no need for you to come if you don’t want to.

There’s no need to feel sorry for him.

b) spoken used to tell someone to stop doing something:

There’s no need to shout!

5 . be in need of something

a) to need help, advice, money etc, because you are in a difficult situation:

This project is in urgent need of funding.

He is homeless and in desperate need of help.

b) to need to be cleaned, repaired, or given attention in some way:

The church was in dire (=very great) need of repair.

6 . have no need of something to not need something:

She believes him and has no need of further proof.

7 . [uncountable] when you do not have enough food or money:

cases of severe need in the inner cities

in need

We must care for those in need.

8 . in your hour of need when you are in trouble and need someone to help you:

How could she abandon her father now, in his hour of need?

9 . needs must (when the devil drives) British English used to say that you must sometimes do things that you do not like doing:

It's not the most comfortable way to travel, but needs must.

⇨ ↑ special needs

• • •


■ adjectives

▪ a real/clear need (=one that really exists)

There is a real need for after-school care in our area.

▪ an urgent need (=one that must be dealt with quickly)

The most urgent need was for more teachers.

▪ a pressing/crying need (=a very urgent need)

There’s a crying need for more doctors and nurses.

▪ a desperate need (=an extremely urgent need)

There is a desperate need to build more housing.

▪ a growing/increasing need

She emphasized the growing need to deal with environmental problems.

■ verbs

▪ stress/emphasize/underline the need for something (=say how important it is)

He stressed the need for better training courses.

▪ eliminate the need for something ( also obviate the need for something formal ) (=make something unnecessary)

The new drug treatment eliminates the need for surgery.

▪ a need exists

New teaching materials must be created if a need exists for them.

■ phrases

▪ there is a need for something

Clearly there is a need for more research.

▪ there is no need for something

They felt that there was no need for a formal contract.

▪ as/if/when the need arises (=if or when something becomes necessary)

Team members move from job to job as the need arises.

▪ if need be (=if it is necessary)

I can work during my lunch break if need be.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.