Difference Between Need and Necessity

Need vs Necessity

There are words like needs, wants, necessity that have similar meanings and we tend to use them almost interchangeably without pausing for a moment to check if indeed this is the case. Need is something that requires fulfillment for the existence of an organism such as thirst and hunger. We cannot postpone these needs if we want to survive. However, needs are also social and psychological such as the need for self-esteem and need for love. There is also the concept of necessity that tells us that it is the mother of invention. However, there are differences between need and necessity that will be talked about in this article.


“A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

This is a saying that explains the meaning of the concept of need. A need is something that has to be fulfilled somehow but this applies to our immediate and pressing needs such as physical needs of food and water to survive. After these are the intermediate needs such as the need for clothing and need for a shelter apart from the need for a safe environment. It is after the fulfillment of these needs that man starts to think in terms of education, economic security, need for saving, insurance etc. Here, it would be prudent to stress the fact that needs are not the same in all cultures of the world and what are pressing needs at one place might be dubbed as luxuries in another place or culture.

Karl Marx described humans as needy creatures who worked for satisfaction of their physical, emotional, intellectual needs throughout their lives. However, if your kid says he needs an iPhone, he is wrong as his need can be met with an ordinary cell phone too.


Necessity is a situation or condition that reflects the pressing need of something. This is best explained by the phrase Necessity is the mother of invention. It is a necessity for us to wear woolen clothing items during winters as otherwise we may fall ill. The same explains the necessity to wear a raincoat or take an umbrella when going out during the rainy season. Necessity is a pressing need that is also required by law such as the necessity to maintain law and order in a place. If an organism cannot survive without oxygen, it is said to be a necessity for him.

What is the difference between Need and Necessity?

• Necessity is a pressing need for something.

• Need is something that requires fulfillment.

• We need food and water to survive, and they are also called necessities.

• However, there are also emotional and social needs that are not as pressing, whereas necessities are always of pressing nature such as maintenance of law and order in a place.

• Health insurance may be a necessity in the western world, but it is viewed as luxury in places where there is extreme poverty.

• Need can be immediate or intermediate, but necessity is always pressing and urgent.