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Need vs. Requirement: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 28, 2023
"Need" refers to something essential or necessary, driven by circumstance or desire, while "requirement" is a stipulated necessity, often formal or specified.

Key Differences

"Need" implies something essential for survival or well-being, like "Humans need water to survive." In contrast, "requirement" is more about meeting set criteria or standards, such as "The course has a requirement of three exams."
While "need" often carries a personal or subjective element, suggesting something crucial for an individual or situation, "requirement" is typically objective and established by an external authority or system.
"Need" can be flexible and context-dependent, varying greatly from person to person or situation to situation. Meanwhile, "requirement" tends to be rigid and defined, leaving little room for interpretation.
In emotional or psychological contexts, "need" is commonly used, reflecting personal desires or conditions for mental well-being. On the other hand, "requirement" is rarely used in such contexts, being more suited for formal or procedural scenarios.
"Need" is often urgent and immediate, addressing a pressing lack or necessity. In contrast, "requirement" usually pertains to a predefined condition that must be met, often in a more systematic or planned context.

Comparison Chart


Essential, often personal
Formal, specified necessity


Context-dependent, variable
Fixed, established criteria


Personal, survival, well-being
Formal, procedural, standards

Emotional Relevance

Common in emotional or psychological needs
Rarely associated with emotions


Often urgent, addressing immediate necessity
Systematic, planned conditions

Need and Requirement Definitions


A strong wish or want.
I need a vacation.


An official or authoritative condition.
Attendance is a requirement for course completion.


Something crucial for survival.
Humans need food to live.


A specified essential.
Passport is a requirement for international travel.


Something missing that is necessary.
This recipe needs more salt.


A crucial stipulation.
Understanding basic math is a requirement for the course.


A necessity due to circumstance.
I need to finish this report by tonight.


A level of quality or attainment.
The requirement for this certification is high proficiency.


Necessary for health or happiness.
Children need love and support.


A condition that must be fulfilled beforehand.
A bachelor's degree is a requirement for this job.


A condition or situation in which something must be supplied in order for a certain condition to be maintained or a desired state to be achieved
Crops in need of water.
A child's need for affection.


Something that is required; a necessity.


Something obligatory; a prerequisite.


A necessity or prerequisite; something required or obligatory. Its adpositions are generally of in relation to who or what has given it, on in relation to whom or what it is given to, and for in relation to what is required.
There was a requirement of the government on citizens for paying taxes.


Something asked.


A statement (in domain specific terms) which specifies a verifiable constraint on an implementation that it shall undeniably meet or (a) be deemed unacceptable, or (b) result in implementation failure, or (c) result in system failure.


The act of requiring; demand; requisition.


That which is required; an imperative or authoritative command; an essential condition; something needed or necessary; a need.
One of those who believe that they can fill up every requirement contained in the rule of righteousness.
God gave her the child, and gave her too an instinctive knowledge of its nature and requirements.


Required activity;
The requirements of his work affected his health
There were many demands on his time


Anything indispensable;
Food and shelter are necessities of life
The essentials of the good life
Allow farmers to buy their requirements under favorable conditions
A place where the requisites of water fuel and fodder can be obtained


Something that is required in advance;
Latin was a prerequisite for admission


Can a requirement be changed easily?

Usually not, as they are often fixed and established.

Do needs vary between individuals?

Yes, needs can be highly individual and situation-dependent.

Is a need always a physical necessity?

No, needs can be emotional or psychological as well.

Do requirements reflect personal desires?

No, they reflect stipulated conditions, not personal desires.

Can a need be deferred?

Some needs can be, but basic needs like food or water are immediate.

Is a requirement legally binding?

In many cases, requirements have legal or official implications.

Is meeting a requirement optional?

Generally, no, especially in formal or legal contexts.

Can a requirement be subjective?

Rarely, as requirements are usually objective and set by external standards.

Are requirements always formal?

Mostly, they are formal and defined by authorities or systems.

Can requirements be personal?

They are usually impersonal and broadly applicable.

Are all needs essential?

Basic needs are essential, but others can be subjective.

Is 'need' used in formal documents?

Less frequently, as 'requirement' is more common in formal contexts.

How are needs expressed in language?

Often through personal or subjective statements.

Are emotional aspects considered in needs?

Yes, emotional and psychological aspects are often integral to needs.

Can needs be universal?

Basic needs like food and shelter are universal, but others vary.

Can a requirement be a desire?

No, requirements are necessities, not desires.

Are requirements always clear-cut?

Yes, they are typically explicit and well-defined.

Can a 'need' be a luxury?

Sometimes, depending on the context and individual perspective.

Are requirements set by an individual?

Typically, they are set by external authorities, not individuals.

Does a need imply urgency?

Often, especially for basic or immediate needs.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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