Verb > Necessitate

Verb – Necessitate

When you think of how something “necessary” is needed, and how a “necessity” is a thing that you need, then it makes sense that they both trace back to the Latin necesse, meaning “unavoidable,” or more literally, “not yielding, not withdrawing, not going away.

The verb form is “necessitate.” You might guess that it’s rather new, since it looks ugly and jargony. But it’s actually been around in English since at least 1601.

Like it sounds, to necessitate something is to make it necessary: to require it, to involve it, or to demand it.

Part of speech:
Verb, the transitive kind: “The hurricane necessitated an evacuation.”

Other forms:
Necessitated, necessitating, necessitation.

And you might put “necessary” and “necessity/necessities” into this family, too.

how to use it:
I think it’s worthwhile to ponder this common word, “necessitate.”

Yes, it’s a cold, dry, ugly, businesslike kind of word, but sometimes we need words like that. This one helps us distance ourselves from the topic at hand, standing back to point at causes and effects in a calm, logical way.

We talk about events and conditions that necessitate changes, adjustments, repairs, and revisions; treatments and interventions; tasks, errands, and journeys; conversations and confrontations, and so on.

And yes, the result is often a dehumanized kind of sentence, one that features objects and events but no people. “The injury necessitated surgery.” “Frizzy hair necessitates good styling products.” “The funding shortage necessitates fundraisers year after year.”

As a writing tutor, I’m compelled to tell you that dehumanized sentences like those are colder, harder to read, and more boring than their humanized counterparts: “He wrecked his car, then underwent surgery.” “I tame my frizzy hair with a big glop of conditioner.” “They have to bake and sell thousands of muffins because the government won’t shell out for printer paper.”

Still, “necessitate” serves us well sometimes. Let’s keep it around.

Just not in the phrase necessitate the need for.” Yikes, that’s redundant. If you see a sentence like “The accident has now necessitated the need for back surgery,” then scribble out “the need for.” One thing necessitates another. Here’s Sherlock Holmes: “A winning strategy sometimes necessitates sacrifice.”

“Rats’ teeth continue to grow our entire lives, which necessitates gnawing to keep them at a manageable length.”
— Suzanne Collins, Gregor the Overlander, 2003

“[The phone game] is as simple as its genre necessitates. You play as a continuously sashaying woman, stacking high heels to get over obstacles.”
— Ashley Bardhan, The Verge, 18 May 2021