what does for want of commitment mean in the following sentence? (emphasis added)

If the reports have not been successful, it is not for want of commitment by the Bank.

Yusuf, Shahid. 2009. Development Economics through the Decades : A Critical Look at 30 Years of the World Development Report. Washington, DC: World Bank. p 107.

  • 2
    In this context, for means because of, caused by. And want means lack, absence of. So whatever the reason the reports weren't successful, it wasn't because the Bank wasn't sufficiently committed (the context as given doesn't specify exactly what the Bank was by implication "adequately" committed to). Aug 14, 2016 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


It's a bit unfamiliar, right? It's true that, to many learners, want is always a verb (meaning something like "need" or "desire)", but in this sentence, want is a noun.

Let's get to the point, for want of something means:

for want of something
  because someone lacks something
  She could not make the trip for want of money.

If you look it up in another dictionary (the Oxford dictionary, definition 1, NOUN), you'll find this:

want [mass noun] A lack or deficiency of something:
'Victorian houses which are in want of repair'
'for want of a better location we ate our picnic in the cemetery'

To sum it up, it's as FumbleFingers wrote in his comment, it is not for want of commitment by the Bank means "it is not because the Bank lacks commitment".

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