de·​spair·​ing di-ˈsper-iŋ How to pronounce despairing (audio)
: given to, arising from, or marked by despair : devoid of hope
despairingly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for despairing

despondent, despairing, desperate, hopeless mean having lost all or nearly all hope.

despondent implies a deep dejection arising from a conviction of the uselessness of further effort.

despondent about yet another rejection

despairing suggests the slipping away of all hope and often despondency.

despairing appeals for the return of the kidnapped child

desperate implies despair that prompts reckless action or violence in the face of defeat or frustration.

one last desperate attempt to turn the tide of battle

hopeless suggests despair and the cessation of effort or resistance and often implies acceptance or resignation.

the situation of the trapped miners is hopeless

Examples of despairing in a Sentence

despairing predictions regarding the effects of global overpopulation despairing applicants need to be reminded that most students are eventually accepted somewhere
Recent Examples on the Web The daughter’s response is tearful, terse and despairing. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Mar. 2024 Mitch Ryan directed the video, in which Rodrigo hosts a beauty pageant while despairing over the enviable attributes of her partner’s ex. Rodrigo co-wrote the song with Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) and longtime collaborator Dan Nigro. Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork, 22 Mar. 2024 The sheer volume of lies and misrepresentations injected into the political mainstream has some scientists despairing of ever regaining the public’s attention. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 22 Feb. 2024 Gordon had a small but moving cameo as a caring record company exec visiting the despairing rocker named Blake and urging him to leave with her. Steve Appleford, Los Angeles Times, 25 Mar. 2024 At a moment when many people are despairing about the seeming inability of the legal system to hold Trump to account before November, this latest development is testament to the formidable powers to go after fraudulent businesses that the New York attorney general possesses under state law. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, 19 Mar. 2024 Lebanese are despairing over their next meal as the economic crisis worsens Lebanon is no stranger to disaster, having survived a 15-year civil war and a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006. Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2024 Court documents revealed despairing emails from employees and specific quality failures. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 11 Jan. 2024 And this season was the first time the Chiefs have had to deal with that pushback from the wider NFL fanbase, with many despairing at yet another Kansas City Super Bowl victory. Ben Morse, CNN, 17 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'despairing.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


from present participle of despair entry 2

First Known Use

1589, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of despairing was in 1589

Dictionary Entries Near despairing

Cite this Entry

“Despairing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: given to, coming from, or marked by despair : not having hope
despairingly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on despairing

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