Definition of necessary in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈnɛsəs(ə)ri/


1Needed to be done, achieved, or present; essential: they granted the necessary planning permission it’s not necessary for you to be here
More example sentences
  • We had always stayed out of each others private business, prying only when we deemed it absolutely necessary.
  • A jury of experts reviewed a draft of the survey and made changes where necessary.
  • Often it's impossible for the architect of a company to make the changes necessary to ensure it survives.
obligatory, requisite, required, compulsory, mandatory, imperative, demanded, needed, called for, needful;
essential, indispensable, vital, of the essence, incumbent;
French de rigueur
2Determined, existing, or happening by natural laws or predestination; inevitable: a necessary consequence
More example sentences
  • As much as I'd like to think that spying doesn't happen, it's going to happen as a necessary consequence of competition.
  • The magazine, he says, is ‘a necessary consequence of their superstar status’.
  • He saw radical skepticism as a necessary consequence of the misery of the human condition.
inevitable, unavoidable, certain, sure, inescapable, inexorable, ineluctable, fated, destined, predetermined, predestined, preordained
2.1 Philosophy (Of a concept, statement, etc.) inevitably resulting from the nature of things, so that the contrary is impossible.
Example sentences
  • Bacon and Locke had discussed the question of a necessary knowledge of nature from a scholastic standpoint.
  • If it is shown that the opinion actually formed is not an opinion of this character, then the necessary opinion does not exist.
  • There could be no solution, they claimed, until the mind first grasped the necessary idea.
2.2 Philosophy (Of an agent) having no independent volition.
Example sentences
  • The sixth is that if a man were not a necessary agent he would be ignorant of morality and have no motive to practice it.


(usually necessaries)
1The basic requirements of life, such as food and warmth: not merely luxuries, but also the common necessaries poor people complaining for want of the necessaries of life
More example sentences
  • Shelter, medicine, basic schooling, and even necessaries like food and water were now being provided to the million upon million of starving adults, and their children.
  • Others resort to exploitation, as in the case of an injured officer who, with the help of a resentful assistant, attempts to trade tobacco leaves with the retreating soldiers in exchange for food and other necessaries.
  • Work was about to be resumed at the Emergency Kitchen for the relief of the sick poor of York, which was for the immediate relief of all poor persons who were ill, and too poor to afford the pressing necessaries their sufferings required.
1.1 (the necessary) informal The action or item needed: see when they need a tactful word of advice and do the necessary
More example sentences
  • Unable to get the human variety, the club has hired a team of four llamas to do the necessary.
  • Of course, if she's busy reading or otherwise occupied, she sends the sprog in her place to do the necessary.
  • Unafraid of blood and guts, I went with him to the top of the garden where he did the necessary.
1.2 (the necessary) British informal The money needed: a bag containing my wallet: the money, the necessary
More example sentences
  • Paul, a successful model with ambitions to run his own place, came up with the necessary.
money, cash, the wherewithal, funds, finances, capital, means, resources
informal dough, bread, loot, the ready, the readies
British informal dosh
See also money


a necessary evil

Something that is undesirable but must be accepted: for many, paying taxes is at best a necessary evil
More example sentences
  • In fact they enter the course regarding cryptography as a necessary evil that must be endured in order for them to obtain an Information Security qualification.
  • If this was making inroads into the problem then many Americans would reluctantly accept this as a necessary evil.
  • But if lights are occasionally necessary, they are a necessary evil.


Late Middle English: from Latin necessarius, from necesse 'be needful'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ne¦ces|sary

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