Difference Between Need and Desire

Key Difference – Need vs Desire

Need and desire are concepts that are similar in nature and meaning although a difference can be discerned between these two words. In most situations our needs and desires often overlap with one another. Often, we feel that what we need is what we desire and what we desire is what we need. This is the confusion in the minds of many people as they feel that needs and desires are synonyms and can be used interchangeably. Needs refer to those that are necessary for survival. On the other hand, desires refer to those that people want in life although there is not threat to survival if the individual fails to accomplish them. Desires are forever growing in the individual as he tries more to accomplish them. As you can see the two concepts are totally different which will be clear after reading this article.

What is a Need?

We have certain needs that we feel we cannot live without them. The most basic needs are hunger, clothing, and shelter. Love that we receive from our family and friends may not appear as our need, but it is also our basic need as otherwise we feel neglected and unwanted. Satisfying our needs is very important for us as they are essential for our very existence. We have to eat when we are hungry and need to excrete or urinate when it becomes necessary. We have to fulfill the basic needs to survive. We do not think of mineral water or a cola when we are very thirsty, and all we need is water to quench our thirst.

Difference Between Need and Desire

What is a Desire?

Desire is something we want for ourselves. This desire could be weak or very strong. If we feel a strong desire for something, we work hard to achieve it for ourselves. Desire is not basic and essential for our existence, and it is not that we cannot live without things we desire. Another important thing to remember is that desires are endless, and we are never satisfied fully.

Desires have been condemned as a source of constant trouble for human beings in many religions as desires are never ending and keep popping up one after another all our lives.

 Need vs Desire

What is the difference between Need and Desire?

Definitions of Need and Desire:

Need: Needs are basic and must be met for our survival.

Desire: Desire is something we want for ourselves.

Characteristics of Need and Desire:


Need: Needs are necessary for survival.

Desire: Desire is not necessary for our survival.


Need: Needs are mandatory to live, hence they do not bring sorrow.

Desire: Desires are sources of sorrow for human beings as people begin to desire more and more in life.


Image Courtesy:

1. Water drop impact on a water surface By Davide Restivo from Aarau, Switzerland (Drops #2) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Whiskey Chocolate cake By FotoosVanRobin [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons