“They were supposed to be a healthier alternative to your standard cookie, but the children found them seriously wanting.”

What is the best definition of wanting?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Characterized by a ravenous or insatiable appetite
Choice B - Sufficient or containing the entirety of its parts
Choice C - Inadequate or lacking some essential component
Choice D - Revolting to the point of causing disgust


Wanting (adjective) – missing an essential component; lacking or inadequate in some capacity, ability, amount, or degree

Wanting (preposition) – lacking or without; or, less or minus

GRE pro tips:

You already know the common verb want – it means “to wish for” or “to desire.” And, when you wish for something, that thing is often something that you do not have. In other words, you want something that you are lacking. So, it makes sense that the adjective wanting describes something that is either missing some essential component or is lacking or deficient in some way.

If something is wanting, it most often means that there’s not enough of something essential in it. For instance, if your homemade chile is described by your guests to be “wanting,” perhaps it’s missing some major ingredient (chili peppers?), and it won’t get rave reviews. Likewise, if your chemistry teachers says that your lab report is “wanting,” then perhaps it lacks sound methodology or accurate calculations – and you can likely expect a bad grade. And, if your school’s football team is wanting in offense, they’ll have a hard time winning games – and you’ll wish they had a new quarterback.

Maybe you can remember: when something is wanting, it leaves you wanting something different.

Example sentences:

“We tried the restaurant’s new menu but found it to be wanting.”

“The United States women’s national soccer team will not be wanting for experience at this year’s World Cup.”

“We brought along a first aid kit with us for our climb; however, it was wanting some critical items, including bandages and gauze.”