Main definitions of must in English

: must1must2must3must4

must1

modal verbhad to, must

  • 1Be obliged to; should (expressing necessity)

    ‘you must show your ID card’
    ‘the essay mustn't be over 2,000 words’
    ‘she said she must be going’
    • ‘Their culture and way of life must of necessity reflect a human-centred moral order.’
    • ‘This is a necessity and you must start doing it now because it is an exam technique.’
    • ‘Obviously, the central biographical facts in all of these volumes must necessarily be identical.’
    • ‘Once you've decided what is necessary, you must work out where to buy it.’
    • ‘No purchase necessary, answers must be posted in the comments box for this entry.’
    • ‘We must also take the necessary steps to liberate more cash from central government.’
    • ‘The necessary apparatus must be assembled nearby and held in readiness.’
    • ‘Although some offer tackle, most do not and you must provide the necessary equipment.’
    • ‘Businesses must tell you if you're obliged to pay to return, but they can wait until the point of delivery to do so.’
    • ‘If such evidence is admitted, the jury must be directed that they are not obliged to accept such evidence.’
    • ‘A man must carry a woman, not necessarily his spouse, through a pool and across hurdles.’
    • ‘To answer the question we must first identify the perpetrators of the crimes.’
    • ‘As an elected Councillor I must question local residents' ability to pay these increases.’
    • ‘We must always question what we are being told, and by whom, however authoritative they may appear.’
    • ‘When I am in here I think that the chair is in the wrong place, I must move it.’
    • ‘She said that he knew what he did was wrong and that he must be punished.’
    • ‘The man with the clipboard may want your opinion, but he's the one holding the form that your opinion must fit into.’
    • ‘Finally, it must state an opinion as to the quality of the product, giving clear reasons for that opinion.’
    • ‘It is crucial that opinion must at all times be accurate and evidence based if miscarriages of justice are to be avoided.’
    • ‘To calm public opinion, police must quickly arrest the culprits and solve this case.’
    ought to, should, have to, have got to, need to, be obliged to, be required to, be compelled to, be under an obligation to
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Expressing insistence.
      ‘you must try some of this fish’
      ‘if you must smoke you could at least go in the living room’
      • ‘If you must smoke then smoke at home, mess up your own house, keep your own rubbish and leave the rest of us smoke free.’
      • ‘If someone must smoke on the road, stop at a rest stop for a smoke break outside the car.’
      • ‘There's a lot to be said for due process - but in this case we must insist as a country that the rules can sometimes be wrong.’
      • ‘Their brief also insists that all materials must come from recycled waste material.’
      • ‘Deciding what public benefit means must, she insisted, be left to the Charity Commission.’
      • ‘The council also insists it must be able to comment on any further applications or submissions.’
      • ‘She insists fox hunting supporters must now accept that they have lost the argument.’
      • ‘We must positively insist we get the extra money to pay for more police officers.’
      • ‘We must insist that the two of you are absolutely needed to be present at this event.’
      • ‘Holiday operators sometimes insist that customers must take out its own insurance.’
      • ‘This was not all there was to his theory of art, nor did he insist that all art must be beautiful.’
      • ‘He pointed out this was wrong, but the checkout staff insisted that the till must be right.’
      • ‘Parents must insist on it and never be frightened to rock the boat at you child's school.’
      • ‘We must take action to stop the damage smoking and passive smoking do to people's health and people's lives.’
      • ‘I must find out what they're smoking though, seems like pretty powerful stuff.’
      • ‘But one must remember they were not smoking up to 60 a day as is often reported today.’
      • ‘If you must go to sleep, have a smoke alarm, then at least you'll wake everyone else up.’
      • ‘He said farmers must demand full value for their stock and insist on payment on the day.’
      • ‘The doctor insists that it's dangerous and it must be treated at once.’
      • ‘This is the question that must be answered by both the authorities and the vendors themselves.’
    2. 1.2Used in ironic questions expressing irritation.
      ‘Charlotte, must you put spanners in the works?’
      • ‘The risks have been proven so why must non-smokers still be subjected to smoke they don't want to inhale?’
      • ‘If they cannot spit when they're smoking inside a restaurant, why must they do it outside?’
  • 2Expressing an opinion about something that is logically very likely.

    ‘there must be something wrong’
    ‘you must be tired’
    • ‘The likely rationale must be that the company sees the fixed line telecom business as a potential cash generator.’
    • ‘So, we must logically have some control over which management tools we use.’
    • ‘While they all use the same delivery mechanism it is likely that prices must be the same.’
    • ‘The right to join an association logically must include the right not to do so.’
    • ‘I must either be tired, unwittingly drugged or in an exceptionally good mood.’
    • ‘The politicians and newspapers have got it all wrong - they must be scared, or ignorant, or both.’
    • ‘The Balinese people believed that there must be something wrong with their lives.’
    • ‘The Muslim Council seems to be basing their racial profiling on language - which must be wrong.’
    • ‘There must be something seriously wrong with Bollywood if films like these get awards.’
    • ‘I knew something must be wrong when I overtook a second bus with the same number as one I'd already past.’
    • ‘There must be something wrong with people who can do cryptic crosswords.’
    • ‘Because if you are wrong, it must mean you're stupid and nobody can admit that they're stupid.’
    • ‘I strongly believe you make your own luck, so we must be doing something wrong.’
    • ‘So when at seven she began to have problems with her reading, mum Jill knew there must be something wrong.’
    • ‘You feel that you must be doing something wrong or not working hard enough, to have brought such a situation about.’
    • ‘The wind is blowing so fiercely that you realise that something must be wrong.’
    • ‘There must be some favourite pastime, not necessarily strenuous, that can help you to relax.’
    • ‘As more and more bans are introduced those who do smoke must feel like outcasts.’
    • ‘It must be terrible for a person that has never smoked if it irritates me.’
    • ‘There must be people who don't smoke, who just wander out and stand there not working.’

noun

informal
  • Something that should not be overlooked or missed.

    ‘this video is a must for everyone’
    • ‘The washbag should only contain absolute musts and with the current climate no scissors, razor blades, penknives, etc unless you want them confiscated.’
    • ‘They say ‘defense’ and ‘consolidation’ are musts for a global game.’
    • ‘When determining which media tools are right for your camp, consider the following list of musts.’
    • ‘The sauces that accompany them - one minty and spicy, one fruity and sweet - are definite musts for dipping.’
    • ‘Aside from the libations, though, there are a couple of other musts to make it a thoroughly enjoyable night.’
    • ‘I think life should have a few musts, and besides, it seems like she's replaced a whole lot of little musts with one big one - everyone MUST do and think what the purple book she loves says.’
    • ‘The traditions around weddings seemed very narrow and uninteresting; I couldn't see any self-expression, just a list of musts and shoulds.’
    • ‘Consider purchasing these bodybuilder musts.’
    • ‘Firewalls, authentication schemes and rigid testing are musts for any company that wants to maintain a trusting relationship with its customers.’
    • ‘Binoculars, a ‘severe-clear’ sky, and an open view to the horizon are practically musts to catch these events.’
    • ‘The survey and evaluation are musts if this is your marketing tool.’
    • ‘These musts are mandatory, measurable standards against which to judge new product alternatives.’
    • ‘These could be interspersed with edible flowers, trailing nasturtiums and orange Calendula would be musts.’
    • ‘Unquestionably, these are very fine books that are musts for a chess lover's library.’
    • ‘We tell you which supplements are musts and which ones can help burn bodyfat.’
    • ‘You know that brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once daily are musts.’
    not to be missed, very good
    View synonyms

Origin

Old English mōste, past tense of mōt ‘may’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch moeten and German müssen.

Pronunciation

must

/mʌst/

Main definitions of must in English

: must1must2must3must4

must2

noun

mass noun
  • Grape juice before or during fermentation.

Origin

Old English, from Latin mustum, neuter (used as a noun) of mustus ‘new’.

Pronunciation

must

/mʌst/

Main definitions of must in English

: must1must2must3must4

must3

noun

mass noun
  • Mustiness, dampness, or mould.

    ‘a pervasive smell of must’
    mould, mustiness, mouldiness, mildew, fustiness, decay
    View synonyms

Origin

Early 17th century back-formation from musty.

Pronunciation

must

/mʌst/

Main definitions of must in English

: must1must2must3must4

must4

(also musth)

noun

mass noun
  • A condition of heightened aggression and unpredictable behaviour occurring annually in certain male animals, especially elephants and camels, in association with a surge in testosterone level, equivalent to the rutting season of deer and some other mammals.

    ‘a big old bull elephant in must’
    • ‘Allow only male elephants under the age of fourteen to carry and interact with tourists if the Thai mahouts are unwilling or unable to tell when their male elephants are in musth.’
    • ‘Males in musth actively seek mating opportunities and become much more aggressive toward other bulls.’
    • ‘During sexually active periods, known as musth, males spend much of their time searching for mates.’
    • ‘It ends with the animal protesting, after being chained during musth.’
    • ‘Elephant bulls that are in musth - when their testosterone levels are high, and they're going aggressively after the ladies - urinate on their back legs.’

adjective

  • (of a male elephant or camel) in a condition marked by heightened aggression and unpredictable behaviour that usually occurs annually in association with a surge in testosterone level.

    ‘two musth males competing for a female’

Origin

Late 19th century via Urdu from Persian mast ‘intoxicated’.

Pronunciation

must

/mʌst/