I've run across the phrase "must needs" occasionally in my reading and really haven't seen a definition of it. The most recent was the following that I picked out of an online Catholic dictionary:

"Every prophecy which had not been literally accomplished in the first coming of Christ must needs be accomplished in His second coming."

It makes no sense to me and I can't think of a synonym for it.

Thanks,
-Yukon Jack
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I've run across the phrase "must needs" occasionally in my reading and really haven't seen a definition of it. The ... accomplished in His second coming." It makes no sense to me and I can't think of a synonym for it.

It's a hyperbole. The meaning of your example would be something like this: "Every prophecy which had not been literally accomplished in the first coming of Christ must be (needs to be) accomplished in His second coming." Here are quotes from three dictionaries.
QUOTE from AHD (http://www.bartleby.com/61/90/N0049000.html ).

ADVERB: Of necessity; necessarily: We must needs go. ETYMOLOGY: Middle English nedes, from nede, from Old English nde, genitive of nd, necessity. See need.
END QUOTE
QUOTE from WordNet Dictionary
(http://www.hyperdictionary.com/dictionary/needs )
Definition: (adv) in such a manner as could not be otherwise; "it is necessarily so"; "we must needs by objective"

Synonyms: inevitably, necessarily, of necessity
END QUOTE
QUOTE from Webster's 1913 Dictionary
( )
A man must needs love mauger his head. Chaucer.

And he must needs go through Samaria. John iv. 4.

He would needs know the cause of his reulse. Sir J. Davies.

END QUOTE

Mike Bandy
It's a hyperbole. The meaning of your example would be ... must be (needs to be) accomplished in His second coming."

PMFJI, but why do you say it is hyperbole? I thought hyperbole meant: A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect, as in "I could sleep for a year" or "This book weighs a ton".

Archaic English (is that the correct term?) is queer stuff isn't it? Very hard to see how it could have been cosidered good grammer sometimes, yes? Would I be right in surmising that examples like the OP's are obsolete norms of the language that died out from lack of use? Or did they fall into misuse for other reasons (like, perhaps they just didn't sound right..)?
Thanks
Abe
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I've run across the phrase "must needs" occasionally in my reading and really haven't seen a definition of it. The ... accomplished in His second coming." It makes no sense to me and I can't think of a synonym for it.

Synonym for needs: "perforce" ? (just as old-fashioned as the "needs" in "must needs", but still to be seen and heard).
I assume that "needs" in this sense is an archaic adverb, not some bizarre use of the 3rd person singular verb or the plural noun.

Alan Jones
I've run across the phrase "must needs" occasionally in my ... me and I can't think of a synonym for it.

Synonym for needs: "perforce" ? (just as old-fashioned as the "needs" in "must needs", but still to be seen and ... this sense is an archaic adverb, not some bizarre use of the 3rd person singular verb or the plural noun.

Most deffo. As Chaucer said, and I think rightly, '' Nedes the wordes moten ben cosynes to tho thinges of whiche thei speken. ''

ie 'must of necessity'
But then, needs must when the devil drives.

John Dean
Oxford
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I've run across the phrase "must needs" occasionally in my ... me and I can't think of a synonym for it.

Synonym for needs: "perforce" ? (just as old-fashioned as the "needs" in "must needs", but still to be seen and ... this sense is an archaic adverb, not some bizarre use of the 3rd person singular verb or the plural noun.

Has anyone mentioned the expression "needs must"? Is it related?
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Has anyone mentioned the expression "needs must"? Is it related?

Methinks it means the same. Those old-timers were fond of switching their words around: "Come ye to my house" etc..
Allen
I've run across the phrase "must needs" occasionally in my reading and really haven't seen a definition of it.

Have you tried looking in a dictionary? Chambers gives:

must needs or needs must (often /ironic/): must inevitably

Adrian
PMFJI, but

Actually, everybody at AEU appreciates your comments. I feel very confident that I can speak for everybody.
why do you say it is hyperbole? I thought hyperbole meant: A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect, as in "I could sleep for a year" or "This book weighs a ton".

I thought "must needs" (or "needs must") was, "A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect ... ." One could say "must be" or "needs to be" without loss of meaning. The phrase is used for magnification.
Archaic English (is that the correct term?) is queer stuff isn't it? Very hard to see how it could have ... from lack of use? Or did they fall into misuse for other reasons (like, perhaps they just didn't sound right..)?

I don't know whether "archaic" is the correct word, either. I think it's either archaic or old fashioned. It also seems to me that if one is using the phrase nowadays, it's /probably/ in a religious context.

Mike Bandy
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