de·​spair·​ing | \ di-ˈsper-iŋ How to pronounce despairing (audio) \

Definition of despairing

: given to, arising from, or marked by despair : devoid of hope

Other Words from despairing

despairingly \ di-​ˈsper-​iŋ-​lē How to pronounce despairing (audio) \ 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 Both felt that harm reduction efforts had saved their own lives, and helping others was a source of hope at a time that too often could feel despairing. Joanna Slater, Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2022 The novel’s most humorous events are also its most despairing. Dan Piepenbring, The New Yorker, 16 June 2022 The darkness is deeper and sometimes more despairing this year, but the jokes are just as frequent, and maybe even a bit more cathartic. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 11 May 2022 Her thoughts grew more despairing during the next few weeks in the hospital and then in the Navy’s psychiatric ward. Melissa Chan, NBC News, 28 Apr. 2022 People who demonstrate tragic optimism suffer the same—and sometimes even more—pain and sorrow in the short term as those who become pessimistic and despairing. Brad Stulberg, Outside Online, 20 Jan. 2021 On July 30, 1932, exactly 6 months before Hitler became chancellor of Germany, Albert Einstein sent a despairing letter to Sigmund Freud. Adam Kuper, WSJ, 6 May 2022 This despairing rhetoric can’t be helping to encourage vaccination. Benjamin Mazer, The Atlantic, 19 Apr. 2022 Beyond the research evidence, their gut-level take tells them that young people truly have become more anxious and despairing. Judith Warner, Washington Post, 21 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'despairing.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of despairing

1589, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for despairing

from present participle of despair entry 2

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Time Traveler for despairing

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The first known use of despairing was in 1589

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Last Updated

23 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Despairing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for despairing


de·​spair·​ing | \ di-ˈsper-iŋ \

Kids Definition of despairing

: having or showing no hope a despairing voice

Other Words from despairing

despairingly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on despairing

Nglish: Translation of despairing for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of despairing for Arabic Speakers


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