Definition of want in English:


Line breaks: want
Pronunciation: /wɒnt


  • 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 leave [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, fancy, have a fancy for, take a fancy to, have an inclination for, care for, like, set one's heart on; long for, yearn for, pine for, sigh for, crave, hanker after, hunger for, thirst for, lust after, cry out for, be desperate for, itch for, covet, need, be bent on
    informal have a yen for, be dying for
  • 1.1Wish to speak to (someone): Tony wants me in the studio
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    • 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 (be wanted) (Of a suspected criminal) be sought by the police for questioning: he is wanted by the police in connection with an arms theft
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    • 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
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    • 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 [no object] (want in/into/out) • 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 [with infinitive] informal 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.
  • 2.1 [with present participle] 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.
    need, be/stand in need of, require, demand, cry out for
  • 3 [no object] literary Lack something desirable or essential: you shall want for nothing while you are with me
  • 3.1 [with object] archaic (Chiefly used in expressions of time) lack or be short of (a specified amount or thing): it wanted twenty minutes to midnight


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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'.

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