Want vs Wont - What's the difference?

want | wont |

As verbs the difference between want and wont

is that want is to wish for or to desire (something) while wont is (archaic) to make (someone) used to; to accustom.

As nouns the difference between want and wont

is that want is (countable) a desire, wish, longing while wont is one’s habitual way of doing things, practice, custom.

As an adjective wont is

(archaic) accustomed or used (to'' or ''with a thing).



Alternative forms

* waunt (obsolete)


(en verb)
  • To wish for or to desire (something).
  • * , chapter=13
  • , title= The Mirror and the Lamp , passage=And Vickers launched forth into a tirade very different from his platform utterances. He spoke with extreme contempt of the dense stupidity exhibited on all occasions by the working classes. He said that if you wanted to do anything for them, you must rule them, not pamper them. Soft heartedness caused more harm than good.}}
  • * {{quote-magazine, year=2013, month=July-August, author=(Henry Petroski)
  • , title= Geothermal Energy , volume=101, issue=4, magazine=(American Scientist) , passage=Energy has seldom been found where we need it when we want it. Ancient nomads, wishing to ward off the evening chill and enjoy a meal around a campfire, had to collect wood and then spend time and effort coaxing the heat of friction out from between sticks to kindle a flame. With more settled people, animals were harnessed to capstans or caged in treadmills to turn grist into meal.}}
  • * Dryden
  • The disposition, the manners, and the thoughts are all before it; where any of those are wanting' or imperfect, so much ' wants or is imperfect in the imitation of human life.
  • To lack, not to have (something).
  • *, II.3.7:
  • he that hath skill to be a pilot wants' a ship; and he that could govern a commonwealth' wants means to exercise his worth, hath not a poor office to manage.
  • * James Merrick
  • Not what we wish, but what we want , / Oh, let thy grace supply!
  • * Addison
  • I observed that your whip wanted a lash to it.
  • (colloquially with verbal noun as object) To be in need of; to require (something).
  • * 1922 , (Virginia Woolf), (w, Jacob's Room) Chapter 2
  • The mowing-machine always wanted oiling. Barnet turned it under Jacob's window, and it creaked—creaked, and rattled across the lawn and creaked again.
  • (dated) To be in a state of destitution; to be needy; to lack.
  • * Ben Jonson
  • You have a gift, sir (thank your education), / Will never let you want .
  • * Alexander Pope
  • For as in bodies, thus in souls, we find / What wants in blood and spirits, swelled with wind.

    Usage notes

    * This is a catenative verb. See


    * (desire) set one's heart on, wish for, would like * (lack) be without * (require) need, be in need of

    Derived terms

    * I want to know * want-away * wanted * want for * wanting *


  • (countable) A desire, wish, longing.
  • (countable, often, followed by of) Lack, absence.
  • * , King Henry VI Part 2 , act 4, sc. 8:
  • [H]eavens and honour be witness, that no want of resolution in me, but only my followers' base and ignominious treasons, makes me betake me to my heels.
  • * :
  • For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
    For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
    For want of a horse the rider was lost.
    For want of a rider the battle was lost.
    For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
    And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
  • (uncountable) Poverty.
  • * Jonathan Swift
  • Nothing is so hard for those who abound in riches, as to conceive how others can be in want .
  • Something needed or desired; a thing of which the loss is felt.
  • * Paley
  • Habitual superfluities become actual wants .
  • (UK, mining) A depression in coal strata, hollowed out before the subsequent deposition took place.
  • Derived terms

    * want ad






    Etymology 1

    Origin uncertain: apparently a conflation of (wone) and wont (participle adjective, below).


  • One’s habitual way of doing things, practice, custom.
  • He awoke at the crack of dawn, as was his wont .
  • * Milton
  • They are to be called out to their military motions, under sky or covert, according to the season, as was the Roman wont .
  • * 2006 , Orhan Pamuk, My Name Is Red:
  • With a simple-minded desire, and to rid my mind of this irrepressible urge, I retired to a corner of the room, as was my wont [...]
  • * 1920 , James Brown Scott, The United States of America: A Study in International Organization , page 142:
  • As was also the wont of international conferences, a delegate from Pennsylvania, in this instance James Wilson, proposed the appointment of a secretary and nominated William Temple Franklin
  • * 1914 , Items of interest - Page 83:
  • Such conditions, having been the common practice for years, and, existing in a less degree in some localities to the present time, afford a tangible reason for a form of correlation that is more universal than it is the wont of the profession to admit [...]

    Etymology 2

    (etyl) .


  • (archaic) Accustomed or used (to'' or ''with a thing).
  • * Shakespeare
  • I have not that alacrity of spirit, / Nor cheer of mind, that I was wont to have.
  • * 1843 , '', book 2, ch. XI, ''The Abbot’s Ways
  • He could read English Manuscripts very elegantly, elegantissime : he was wont to preach to the people in the English tongue, though according to the dialect of Norfolk, where he had been brought up
  • (designating habitual behaviour) Accustomed, apt (to doing something).
  • He is wont to complain loudly about his job.
    Like a 60-yard Percy Harvin touchdown run or a Joe Haden interception return, Urban Meyer’s jaw-dropping resignation Saturday was, as he’s wont to say, “a game-changer.” — Sunday December 27, 2009, Stewart Mandel, INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL'', ''Meyer’s shocking resignation rocks college coaching landscape
    See also
    * * prone to


    (en verb)
  • (archaic) To make (someone) used to; to accustom.
  • (archaic) To be accustomed.
  • * 1590 , (Edmund Spenser), The Faerie Queene , III.2:
  • But by record of antique times I finde / That wemen wont in warres to beare most sway [...].


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