want (wŏnt, wônt)
v. want·ed, want·ing, wants
a. To have a strong feeling to have (something); wish (to possess or do something); desire greatly: She wants a glass of water. They want to leave. See Synonyms at desire.
b. To desire (someone to do something): I want you to clean your room.
a. To request the presence or assistance of: You are wanted by your office.
b. To seek with intent to capture: The fugitive is wanted by the police.
3. To have an inclination toward; like: Say what you want, but be tactful.
4. Informal To be obliged (to do something): You want to be careful on the ice.
5. To be in need of; require: "'Your hair wants cutting,' said the Hatter" (Lewis Carroll).
6. To be without; lack.
To be inclined or desirous; wish: Call me daily if you want.
1. The condition or quality of lacking something usual or necessary: stayed home for want of anything better to do.
2. Pressing need; destitution: lives in want.
3. Something desired: a person of few wants and needs.
4. A defect of character; a fault.
To be in need of: You shall want for nothing.
want in Slang
1. To desire greatly to enter: The dog wants in.
2. To wish to join a project, business, or other undertaking.
want out Slang
1. To desire greatly to leave: The cat wants out.
2. To wish to leave a project, a business, or other undertaking.
[Middle English wanten, to be lacking, from Old Norse vanta; see euə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.