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.
- 2. Constraint or compulsion having its basis in the natural order or constitution of things, esp. such constraint conceived as a law prevailing throughout the material universe and within the sphere of human action; (Philosophy) natural compulsion admitting of no influence by the human will. Also with defining word, as absolute, conditional, logical, moral, natural, philosophical, physical, etc.
- 3. a. The fact of being inevitably fixed or determined. Obs.
- b. The constraining power of something. Obs.
- 4. a. An imperative need for or of something.
- 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.
- 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.