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Mother necessity.jpg


Anglo-Norman necessité, necessitee, nessessité and Middle French necessité (first half of the 12th cent. in Old French; also in forms necessited, necessitet) < classical Latin necessitt-, necessits compulsion, constraint, necessary duty or obligation, need, difficulty, neediness, poverty, a bond or tie between persons



Constraint or determination by some external force; an instance of this.

  • 1. a. The constraining power of circumstances; a condition or state of things which forces a certain course of action. Sometimes with implication of sense 9.
b. work (also duty) of necessity: something which cannot possibly or naturally be left undone; spec.
  • 3. a. The fact of being inevitably fixed or determined. Obs.
b. The constraining power of something. Obs.
b. An unavoidable compulsion or obligation of or to do something. (In later use merging with sense 8.)
  • 5. a. A piece of necessary business; a necessary act.
b. Necessary duty.
c. Something unavoidable.
  • 6. The fact of being indispensable; the indispensability of some act or thing.
  • 7. A bond or tie between persons. Cf. NECESSARY adj.


That which is needed or required.

  • 8. a. An indispensable or necessary thing; something which one cannot do without.
b. As a mass noun (freq. with possessive adjective): what is necessarily required; necessaries, needs. Now rare.


Senses relating to want or deprivation.

  • 9. a. The condition of being in difficulties or straits, esp. through lack of means; want, poverty.
b. With possessive adjective or with the and modifying of-clause. Now rare.
c. colloq. Poor quality liquor or spirits; a makeshift alcoholic drink. Obs.
  • 10. A specific situation of hardship or difficulty; a pressing need or want.
  • 11. Want or lack of a thing.