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necessitude (plural necessitudes)

  1. (rare) The state or characteristic of being in need; neediness.
    • 1870, "Lord Kilgobbin," The Cornhill Magazine, vol. 22, p. 521:
      It had been of all things the most harassing and wearying—a life of dreary necessitude—a perpetual struggle with debt.
    • 2001, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, The Cause, →ISBN, p. 408:
      Even if she could have faced life without him, she could not go through it all again, the bankruptcy and shame and necessitude.
  2. (rare, usually pluralized) A circumstance or event which is necessary or unavoidable, especially because it is a requirement of a social role or natural state of affairs.
    • 1814, Félix de Beaujour, Sketch of the United States of North America trans. William Waldon, London, p. 169:
      The Americans. . . fear not the necessitudes of fortune.
    • 1872, James Parsons, "The Ancient Commonwealth," The American Law Register (1852-1891), vol. 20, no. 8, New Series vol. 11, p. 485:
      He lives with them in the isolated home of the tribe and enters into the mysterious communion with the domestic gods who still take part in the necessitudes of the family.
    • 1995, Michael W. McConnell and Edmund Burke, "Establishment and Toleration in Edmund Burke's 'Constitution of Freedom'," The Supreme Court Review, Vol. 1995, p. 437:
      As Conor Cruise O'Brien has pointed out, this passage has a "poignant ring," in light of the probable fact that Burke's father was one of those who betrayed his "duty" by sacrificing his "opinion of eternal happiness" to the necessitudes of legal practice.
  3. (rare, chiefly philosophy) Necessity.
    • 1981, Graham Dawson, "Justified True Belief Is Knowledge," The Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 125: p. 328:
      In Popperian terms, it demonstrates the necessitude of public debate.
  4. (archaic) A relation or connection between people or things.[1]
    • 1845, Jeremy Taylor,The Great Exemplar of Sanctity and Holy Life, described in the History of the Life and Death of our Ever-Blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ, Vol. 1, London, p. 14:
      The relation and necessitude is trifling and loose, and they are all equally contemptible; because the mind entertains no loves or union.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Necessitude, necessitousness, necessitation, necessariness are all nouns closely related to necessity, but they tend to have narrower ranges of usage than the term necessity. The principal sense of necessitude and necessitousness is impoverishment, but the plural form of the former (necessitudes) denotes a set of circumstances which is inevitable or unavoidable. Necessitation is used to suggest necessity as a philosophical or cosmic principle. Necessariness tends to be used to stress a direct connection to the adjective necessary.


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.