Difference between Need and Want

Key Difference: A need is anything which is essential for survival. Everything else than need falls into the category of want which is inessential for basic survival but is usually required for the fulfillment of desires.

Need and want are different from each other. A need is defined by the things which are essential for basic survival. However, want include all the things that one desires or wishes to have. Need is important for a person as one cannot survive without fulfilling of these basic needs like food and water.

Some of the common needs include shelter, food, water, clothing, etc. Heat and electricity are also included in the category of needs.  One should focus on fulfillment of needs than fulfillment of wishes, as need is of prime importance. Need is described by a term called as a necessity.  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs depict five needs ranging from physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and finally self-actualization.

On the other hand, want is related to desire not with the necessity. It is not essential for life, but still a person tends to consider his or her wants as of immense importance. It is important to mention that need and want may differ from one person to another. One cannot categorize concretely that what will be considered as a need or as a want. For example – a car may be a want for someone, and a need for another one who has no other means of transportation nearby.

Many times a person fails to understand the difference between want and need. Therefore, it is very important to prioritize need over wants after recognizing them. Want is never satisfied. It tends to take a monstrous form before one actually starts thinking about overspending in wants thinking them as needs. One should be practical enough and should spend on needs first and then on wants. Want is something associated with emotions rather than practical approach.

It is very important to find a balancing equation between the two, through which all basic needs must be treated first, and then some of the wants may also be achieved without being in trouble financially or in any other way.

Comparison between Need and Want:





Things that are required to survive and live adequately

Things excluding the ones counted as needs. It includes the things which one desires to possess

Key term



For Life



Common examples

Food, housing, clothing

Buying expensive clothes, Eating out at a fancy expensive restaurant.

Situational example

A person is feeling thirsty and needs to drink water

A person is feeling thirsty and wants to sip a banana shake

Image Courtesy: hengkooipiau.blogspot.com, uaretheinspiration

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