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The context of this is in the writing a technical document. The statement I am writing is something of the ilk:

The package then updates the [requisite/required] number of tables.

I was wondering which is more appropriate here, and more broadly, which circumstances each should be used.

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required works best. There is no reason to use "smarter" words to sound more intelligent. – Anderson Silva Jan 14 '11 at 16:42
I agree, every already knows that I'm very intelligent already ;-) – James Wiseman Jan 14 '11 at 16:56
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Required is a synonym of requisite (see the synonym list for requisite from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, for example).

As for the usage, it is required that is in general used in this kind of context. Compare the Google result counts:

"required number of tables" = 25,700 results 
"requisite number of tables" = 2,890 results

"required database tables" = 155,000 results
"requisite database tables" = 760 results

"required form fields" = 534,000 results
"requisite form fields" = 6 results

Moreover, it seems that in any context required is more used than requisite. The table below is from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). It shows the number of occurrences of each word (requisite as W1 and required as W2) next to other words. In all cases, required occurs more than requisite.

alt text

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Thanks for the detailed and useful answer (+1). However, I'm not entirely swayed by the argument that 'required' should be used becuase it is used more often. Does this mean that: 1. The are completely interchangeable, or 2. There are circumstances/contexts where it is more appropriate to use 'Requisite'. If the latter is true, what are these circumstances/contexts? – James Wiseman Jan 14 '11 at 10:51
James, based on the results above, I'd say that while they could be used interchangeably (as they're synonyms), there does not seem to be any context where requisite is more appropriate than required. The assumption here is that more used implies more appropriate. Perhaps somebody will say that requisite may sound more formal than required exactly because it is less used, but I don't think that would make it more appropriate. – b.roth Jan 14 '11 at 11:16
Note that prerequisite is used more often than prerequirement. The latter might not even be considered a valid word. But in this case we would be comparing the noun requisite to the noun requirement. – b.roth Jan 14 '11 at 11:19
I don't beleve the latter is a valid word. I understand it may have emerged as a colloquialism, however. – James Wiseman Jan 14 '11 at 11:56

"Required" has more to do with a rule to be abided by irrespective of whether it is fit for the end purpose. "Requisite" means that it is needed to achieve the end purpose. e.g. "the rule requires that every room should be equipped with neon bulbs"

Are neon bulbs necessary to have light in the room? No, you could use any other type of bulbs: this is required (a requirement). In contrast, if you wanna see anything when it is dark in the room, you will need to install the requisite bulbs. Whether they be neon or else.

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I agree. I think you hit the nail on the head when you used the word "needed." "Attach the needed cable to the lapel" is equivalent to "Attach the requisite cable to the lapel" – Aquarelle Nov 21 '15 at 2:39

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