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verb de·spair \di-ˈsper\

Simple Definition of despair

  • : to no longer have any hope or belief that a situation will improve or change

Full Definition of despair

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to lose all hope or confidence <despair of winning>

  3. transitive verb
  4. obsolete :  to lose hope for

de·spair·er noun

Examples of despair

  1. Sometimes it is hard not to despair about relations between men and women in American society. They seem to have hit rock bottom. —Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, New Republic, 6 May 2002

  2. It is possible that at this stage Caesar had not altogether despaired of a consensual solution to the difficulties facing the Republic. —Anthony Everitt, Cicero, (2001) 2003

  3. Yet, until very recently, Alzheimer's was so poorly understood that scientists despaired of finding a treatment, much less a cure. —Ken Garber, Technology, March 2001

  4. Things look bad now, but don't despair.

  5. <we despaired when we saw how little time we had left to complete our project>

Origin of despair

Middle English despeiren, from Anglo-French desperer, from Latin desperare, from de- + sperare to hope; akin to Latin spes hope — more at speed

First Known Use: 14th century



noun de·spair \di-ˈsper\

Simple Definition of despair

  • : the feeling of no longer having any hope

  • : someone or something that causes extreme sadness or worry

Full Definition of despair

  1. 1 :  utter loss of hope <a cry of despair> <gave up in despair>

  2. 2 :  a cause of hopelessness <an incorrigible child is the despair of his parents>

Examples of despair

  1. On the occasion of Johnson's tercentenary, Martin (A Life of James Boswell) searches out the psychological elements covered up by Boswell and others: the immense insecurities, bouts of deep depression, corrosive self-doubt and, in his last days, despair for his very soul. —Publishers Weekly, 21 July 2008

  2. Players who'd been on the 2004 Olympic team joked about whether their two bronze medals equaled one silver. There was none of the despair or finger-pointing that followed the world championships in '02, when Team USA finished sixth. —Kelly Anderson, Sports Illustrated, 11 Sept. 2006

  3. The people who try to save endangered species in Hawaii are immune to despair. They have to be, to keep doing what they do. —Lawrence Downes, New York Times, 19 Dec. 2004

  4. His despair nearly drove him mad.

  5. I was overcome by despair at being unable to find them.

  6. She finally gave up in despair.

  7. The people were driven to despair by the horrors of war.

  8. This latest setback has brought her to the depths of despair.

Origin of despair

(see 1despair)

First Known Use: 14th century

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February 9, 2016

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