Is there a single verb that means "do not want"?

E.g. "I want that object" or "I want to do this" vs. "I _____ (do not want) that object" or "I _____ (do not want) to do this"?

Also in the case of casual writing, when you might write "Let's not talk about what you want/don't want, let's take action instead" or "Let's not talk about what you do or do not want, let's take action instead", is there a single-word opposite of "want" that could be dropped in and used in combination with "want" in that type of sentence?

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    No, there isn't. There are a number of verbs that include this concept, but none that is simply the negative of want in all of its uses. That's why we have negation, so we don't have to memorize a different verb every time we want to negate one. Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 0:35
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    @JohnLawler Can you post that as an answer?
    – Jason C
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 0:43
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    I'm rather surprised with the many answers (with up votes) that (mis-)understand the situation of the question: Not wanting is not bitterly hating something -- abhor, detest ..., eschew, dislike -- none of them is related to 'not want.' I would think this is so simple.
    – Kris
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 6:00
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    Jason, I don't want to disappoint you but Prof Lawler is right, only not want can mean that.
    – Kris
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 6:02
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    This where elision is so handy. "Let's not talk about what you want or not, let's take action instead" is short and doesn't require the listener to wonder if eschew or reject or whatnot mean the opposite of want. Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 19:01

10 Answers 10


Consider using dislike.

I dislike that broom.

I dislike sweeping the floor.

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    I like this one, thanks; it's not the exact meaning of "do not want" but it implies it and has about the same strength (not too extreme).
    – Jason C
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 4:14

The term eschew means

to keep away from (something harmful or disliked); shun; avoid; abstain from

However, it seems a bit more active than the obverse of want.


Some of the responses are a bit too strong to be opposites of want. I voted for dislike, but I'll also suggest avoid.

  1. To keep away from; to keep clear of; to endeavor not to meet; to shun; to abstain from.

In your examples "I avoid that object" and "I avoid doing that" seem to fit nicely as opposites to want.

  • Thanks! Yes, there are a lot of strong words here. I like "avoid" too, although it is similar to "reject" in that "want" sort of describes a feeling or desire that you have, where "avoid" and "reject" describe an action that you take. For example, you can avoid/reject something and want it at the same time.
    – Jason C
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 5:58
  • @JasonC That's an interesting point! But do opposite words have to be exclusive? I have a love/hate relationship with lots of things. :)
    – ghoppe
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 21:39

I read a lot of the answers here, and many people suggested 'abhor' or 'reject.' These words don't really reverse 'want,' though, because they add so much negative emotion. 'Diswant' is a lovely word, I wish it was real.

"Do you want to go for a walk in the lovely sunshine instead of reading that silly old Jane Austen book?"

"No, I diswant to go for a walk, and I want to read." - what I want to say. "No, I abhor going for a walk, and I want to read." - too much vehemence about the walk "No, I reject your offer to walk, I want to read." - rejection of the person? how rude.

  • Hello, Sylvia. I agree, 'diswant' sounds quite pleasant. However, the ethos of the site is to focus on the language as it is, and as it is reasonably likely to develop; do-it-yourself 'unwords' (sorry) are off-topic. Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 19:24

I might choose abhor,

abhor   verb

to regard with extreme repugnance or aversion; detest utterly; loathe; abominate.

Or, detest, loathe or despise

despise   verb

to regard with contempt, distaste, disgust, or disdain; scorn; loathe.


Consider "exclude," "detest," and "execrate."

exclude: consider that something is not worth attention.


In business and in life, we can get forward by doing things others exclude [=don't want] to do.

This is a rule that I vehemently exclude from my tournaments, as we've lost more than a few rounds due to this ridiculous rule.

detest: to abhor; dislike intensely.

Let the child -- say, a daughter -- be happy, let her be miserable, let her deeply desire this or deeply detest that.

execrate: to detest utterly.

What scope is there for the stronger emotions if the orator is not to his speech, to flame out in anger, to reproach, to wish or to execrate?


It's a stretch.... BUT they are single-words

Repudiate and refuse

  • I want + [noun] = I want prosperity
  • I repudiate + [noun] = I repudiate prosperity

  • I want to [verb] = I want to go

  • I refuse to [verb] = I refuse to go

Let's not talk about what you want or repudiate, let's take action instead
Let's not talk about what you want to do or refuse to do, let's take action instead


Reject appears to be the closest single verb opposite of want but it depends on the context. There is no exact opposite of want, except the negation not want.

reject: to refuse to take something, for example because it is damaged or is not what you wanted - Macmillan

reject: transitive. To refuse to have or accept for some purpose; to set aside or discard as useless or worthless; to turn down. Also intransitive. - OED

I believe reject covers most senses of not want.

Disincline is an option also (but again, it is not an exact opposite). It covers different levels of unwillingness, and it is both transitive and intransitive.

to not want to do something - Cambridge

Although, diswant could be an apt neologism.

There is an interesting approach regarding semantic primitives from the book "Semantics : Primes and Universals By Anna Wierzbicka":

In postulating “diswanting’ rather than negation as a semantic primitive, I was trying to come to grips with the fact that the semantic relation between the phrases “I want” and “I don’t want” seems to be different from that between, say, “I know” and “I don’t know”, or “I do” and “I don’t do”. “I don’t know” (or “I don’t do”) means, roughly speaking, that ‘It is not the case that I know (or do)’. “I don’t want”, however (on one reading at least), does not seem to mean that ‘it is not the case that I want’ (as in “I don’t particularly want”); rather, it seems to mean that I positively ‘dis- want’ something. It is also true that the interjection No! can be used to express a strong ‘diswant’ (“rejection”), rather than merely a denial of wanting. By assuming that ‘diswanting’ was semantically simpler than negation, I seemed to be able to explain such facts. (What was more diffi- cult to explain in that approach was the use of negation in declarative sen- tences—a point to which I will return below.)

  • "Reject" could work in some cases, although it's more of an "action" than a "feeling", if that makes sense, but I like this one. Thanks! P.S. Wow, that's a really fascinating point she makes in that passage, I never thought about that before.
    – Jason C
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 5:41

How about the verb 'to resent sth', 'to resent doing sth', 'to resent sb doing sth'?

Here is what the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English says:

resent /ri'zent/ [transitive]

to feel angry or upset about a situation or about something that someone has done, especially because you think that it is not fair; resent (somebody) doing something; bitterly/deeply/strongly resent

I resented having to work such long hours.

She bitterly resented his mother's influence over him.

Paul resented the fact that Carol didn't trust him.

I resented having (= did not want to have) to work such long hours.

She bitterly resented (= did not at all want) his mother's influence over him.

Paul resented the fact that Carol didn't (= did not want Carol not to) trust him.

Of course you cannot resent something that does not exist, whereas you can 'not want' it.

I do not want a third world war. * I resent a third world war. *

but then, just adding the phrase 'the idea of' does the trick:

I do not want (= resent the idea of) a third world war.


Everyone is taking the wrong approach to the question, " What is the opposite of 'want'"? The negative is not necessarily the opposite, i.e. want and not want. The opposite of want is "need". You're welcome

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    The question specifically assumes the opposite of "want" is "do not want". Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 18:11

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