American English

Definition of necessity noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[uncountable] the fact that something must happen or be done; the need for something necessity (for something) We recognize the necessity for a written agreement. necessity (of something/of doing something) We were discussing the necessity of employing more staff. necessity (for somebody) to do something There had never been any necessity for her to go out to work. There is absolutely no necessity for you to be involved. This is,of necessity, a brief and incomplete account.
  2. 2[countable] a thing that you must have and cannot manage without Many people cannot even afford basic necessities such as food and clothing. Air-conditioning is an absolute necessity in this climate.
  3. 3[countable, usually singular] a situation that must happen and that cannot be avoided Living in a big city, he felt, was an unfortunate necessity.
  4. Idioms
    make a virtue of necessity
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    to manage to gain an advantage from something that you have to do and cannot avoid She decided to make a virtue of necessity and combined a business trip to Paris with a visit to her cousins there.
    necessity is the mother of invention (saying)
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    a difficult new problem forces people to think of a solution to it
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: necessity