Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Middle English needeful, nedeful, from Old English nēodful (necessary; earnest; zealous), equivalent to need +‎ -ful. Cognate with Dutch noodvol, German notvoll.


needful (comparative more needful, superlative most needful)

  1. Needed; necessary; mandatory; requisite; indispensible.
    • 1898, J. Meade Falkner, Moonfleet Chapter 5
      So I went to keep house with him at the Why Not? and my aunt sent down my bag of clothes, and would have made over to Elzevir the pittance that my father left for my keep, but he said it was not needful, and he would have none of it.


needful (plural needfuls)

  1. (slang) Ready money; wherewithal.
  2. (India, chiefly archaic in other dialects) Anything necessary or requisite.

Usage notes[edit]

Commonly found in phrases such as "please do the needful", which occur commonly in Indian English but are held as archaic in other dialects. Global interactions between English speakers have to some extent led to these phrases being seen as stereotypical of Indian English and parodied by speakers of other dialects.

Derived terms[edit]