Definition of want in English:


Syllabification: want
Pronunciation: /wänt
, wônt


1 [with object] Have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for: I want an apple [with infinitive]: we want to go to the beach [with object and infinitive]: she wanted me to go to her room [no object]: I’ll give you a lift into town if you want
More example sentences
  • So when it came to choosing her object of desire, she wanted an attractive object with a practical side.
  • He takes a risk because he thinks he can get away with it because the facts may well turn out to support his editor's desire and he wants a quiet life and to be obliging.
  • Feel the heat of desire, forget wanting a new car.
desire, wish for, hope for, aspire to, fancy, care for, like;
long for, yearn for, crave, hanker after, hunger for, thirst for, cry out for, covet;
informal have a yen for, have a jones for, be dying for
1.1Wish to consult or speak to (someone): Tony wants me in the studio
More example sentences
  • He wants to speak to me tomorrow, or rather, as he put it, he wants me to speak to him.
  • The moderator was flagging me down because he wanted me to speak for a couple of minutes.
  • Students care a lot about their future and they want someone powerful to speak to them.
1.2 (usually be wanted) (Of the police) desire to question or apprehend (a suspected criminal): he is wanted by the police in connection with an arms theft
More example sentences
  • He was named as wanted by Bedfordshire Police in 1998 in connection with the murder of Mr Farrow.
  • There are around 700 bail dodgers in Bolton who are wanted by police on outstanding warrants.
  • She is known to have had a relationship with a homeless man who was wanted by police in connection with a stolen credit card.
1.3Desire (someone) sexually: I’ve wanted you since the first moment I saw you
More example sentences
  • I've always tried to please him with the clothes I buy but him not wanting me sexually I find very hurtful.
  • So Kathy is reduced to tears of frustration as she waits to see whether Anna wants her as a sexual partner.
1.4 [with present participle] informal , chiefly British (Of a thing) require to be attended to in a specified way: the wheel wants greasing
More example sentences
  • The whole lot wants digging up and replacing with a small roundabout like it should have been since day one.
1.5 [with infinitive] informal Ought, should, or need to do something: you don’t want to believe everything you hear
More example sentences
  • I want to believe everything the marketing people tell me about whisky, and more besides.
  • Like the lover let down on a thousand occasions already, we wanted to believe that this time everything would be all right.
  • He had the kind of personality that made you want to believe everything he said, even if he said the sky was pink.
should, ought to, need to, must
1.6 [no object] (want in/into/out/away) informal , chiefly North American Desire to be in or out of a particular place or situation: if anyone wants out, there’s the door
More example sentences
  • Rosa said that although she does not want to drop the charges, she cannot handle the pressures of the situation anymore and wants out of the Army.
  • Like Dillon, he wants out of his current situation.
  • Never thrusting himself upon the crowd, but quietly allowing people to find him, he had a confidence in his own ability to judge who and what he wants out of every situation.
2 [no object] chiefly archaic Lack or be short of something desirable or essential: you shall want for nothing while you are with me
2.1 [with object] (Chiefly used in expressions of time) be short of or lack (a specified amount or thing): it wanted twenty minutes to midnight it wants a few minutes of five o’clock
lack, be without, have need of, be devoid of, be bereft of, be missing


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1chiefly archaic A lack or deficiency of something: Victorian houses which are in want of repair it won’t be through want of trying
More example sentences
  • Men, he claimed, are in want of youth, good skin and lustrous hair.
  • The broken roof tiles seen through the grilled door say the area is in want of care.
  • The story goes that the handsome prince, in want of a wife, invited all the girls in the land to a ball.
1.1The state of being poor and in need of essentials; poverty: freedom from want
More example sentences
  • What Ireland and our Bertie should align itself and us to is not a war on terror but a war on want.
2A desire for something: the expression of our wants and desires
More example sentences
  • It is a great place to acquire and accessorize all your wants and desires - a great place to shop till you drop.
  • We may all have different ideas of how to get to that place, but in the end we have the same wants and needs and desires.
  • We are taught and indoctrinated into pursuing our own wants and desires, often at the expense of others.


Middle English: the noun from Old Norse vant, neuter of vanr 'lacking'; the verb from Old Norse vanta 'be lacking.' The original notion of “lack” was early extended to “need,” and from this developed the sense 'desire'.


for want of

Because of a lack of (something): for want of a better location we ate our picnic lunch in the cemetery
More example sentences
  • His torment in front of goal was agonisingly extended but not for lack of trying or for want of bravery.
  • Part of our community has been shut down and for want of what?
  • Back then he was scared of failure, scared he would go bankrupt for want of 30 quid to pay the gas bill.

Definition of want in:

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