necessity

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English[edit]

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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English necessite, from Old French necessite, from Latin necessitas (unavoidableness, compulsion, exigency, necessity), from necesse (unavoidable, inevitable); see necessary.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

necessity (plural necessities)

  1. ​ The quality or state of being necessary, unavoidable, or absolutely requisite.
    • 2013 June 28, Joris Luyendijk, “Our banks are out of control”, The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 3, page 21: 
      Seeing the British establishment struggle with the financial sector is like watching an alcoholic […].  Until 2008 there was denial over what finance had become. […]  But the scandals kept coming, […]. A broad section of the political class now recognises the need for change but remains unable to see the necessity of a fundamental overhaul.
    I bought a new table out of necessity. My old one was ruined.
  2. The condition of being needy or necessitous; pressing need; indigence; want.
  3. That which is necessary; a requisite; something indispensable.
    • Tenzin Gyatso
      Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
    A tent is a necessity if you plan on camping.
  4. That which makes an act or an event unavoidable; irresistible force; overruling power; compulsion, physical or moral; fate; fatality.
    • 1804, Wordsworth, The Small Celandine
      I stopped, and said with inly muttered voice,
      'It doth not love the shower, nor seek the cold:
      This neither is its courage nor its choice,
      But its necessity in being old.
  5. The negation of freedom in voluntary action; the subjection of all phenomena, whether material or spiritual, to inevitable causation; necessitarianism.
  6. (law) Greater utilitarian good; used in justification of a criminal act.
    doctrine of necessity
  7. (law, in the plural) Indispensable requirements (of life).

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