des·​per·​a·​do ˌde-spə-ˈrä-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce desperado (audio)
plural desperadoes or desperados
: a bold or violent criminal
especially : a bandit of the western U.S. in the 19th century

Examples of desperado in a Sentence

the notorious desperados of the Wild West
Recent Examples on the Web Actually, the two would-be desperadoes might have fared better going up against the late, great action star. Joe Leydon, Variety, 3 Aug. 2023 The series revival, based Elmore Leonard’s novel City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit, has Givens on a collision course with Clement Mansell — aka The Oklahoma Wildman — a desperado played by Boyd Holbrook, who’s already eluded a Motor City police task force on his heels. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 31 May 2023 The Oklahoma Wildman, a violent, sociopathic desperado who's already slipped through the fingers of Detroit's finest once and aims to do so again with the help of his formidable lawyer Carolyn Wilder (Aunjanue Ellis). Sydney Bucksbaum,, 11 May 2023 The lore of Arizona includes everything from Native stories to supernatural occurrences to tales of desperados. Thomas France, The Arizona Republic, 3 Apr. 2023 Senior desperado is the look. James Parker, The Atlantic, 3 Sep. 2021 The premise, The Sandman) will portray Mansell, aka The Oklahoma Wildman, a violent, sociopathic desperado who’s already slipped through the fingers of Detroit’s finest once and aims to do so again. Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 May 2022 The film saddles up alongside Nat Love (Jonathan Majors), a desperado looking for vengeance after a traumatic childhood incident. Anika Reed, USA TODAY, 4 Nov. 2021 And the male rider looked the part of a desperado with his white hat & bandana, brown leather chaps, and white duster adorned with blue Cowboys stars. Kristi Scales, Dallas News, 9 Dec. 2020 See More

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

Word History


probably a pseudo-Spanish alteration of desperate "person in despair, person compelled by circumstances to commit violent acts," noun derivative of desperate

First Known Use

1647, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of desperado was in 1647

Dictionary Entries Near desperado

Cite this Entry

“Desperado.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


des·​per·​a·​do ˌdes-pə-ˈräd-ō How to pronounce desperado (audio)
plural desperadoes or desperados
: a bold or reckless criminal

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