desperate

adjective
des·​per·​ate | \ ˈde-sp(ə-)rət How to pronounce desperate (audio) , -spərt\

Definition of desperate

1a : having lost hope a desperate spirit crying for relief
b : giving no ground for hope the outlook was desperate
2a : moved by despair or utter loss of hope victims made desperate by abuse
b : involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration made a desperate leap for the rope
3 : suffering extreme need or anxiety desperate for money desperate to escape celebrities desperate for attention
4 : involving extreme danger or possible disaster a desperate situation
5 : of extreme intensity … a desperate languor descended heavily upon her, and she slept …— Elinor Wylie

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Other Words from desperate

desperateness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for desperate

Synonyms

despairing, despondent, forlorn, hopeless

Antonyms

hopeful, optimistic

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Choose the Right Synonym for desperate

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 desperate in a Sentence

The collapse of her business had made her desperate. As the supply of food ran out, people became desperate. We could hear their desperate cries for help. a desperate struggle to defeat the enemy He made a desperate bid to save his job. They made one last desperate attempt to fight their way out.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Her life is almost nothing besides this desperate, headlong attempt to outlast her own pain. Sonia Saraiya, HWD, "Sharp Objects Is Stunning, Raw, and Violently Beautiful," 5 July 2018 The game continued with Japan on top, and despite Colombia's desperate attempts, the Asian side came out on top. SI.com, "Colombia 1-2 Japan: Yuya Osako Winner Hands Japanese Shock Victory Over 10 Man Los Cafeteros," 19 June 2018 But Rotterdam has welcomed gentrification in a desperate attempt to leave its harbor-city image behind. Olga Mecking, The Atlantic, "‘Cargo-Bike Moms’ Are Gentrifying the Netherlands," 11 June 2018 Peru captain Paolo Guerrero succeeded in his last, desperate attempt to be allowed to play the World Cup in Russia with his team, which returns to a World Cup after 36 long years. Juan Pimiento, chicagotribune.com, "Zidane's shocking departure, Salah's World Cup and the best of the week in soccer," 31 May 2018 In fact, Indigenous elders in Canada gathered a few years ago to discuss climate change, its dire effects, and the desperate need to address it. Ruth Hopkins, Teen Vogue, "The Climate Disaster We Fear Is Already Happening," 22 Apr. 2019 In the last months of World War II, with its massive navy defeated, Japan was desperate for a way to stem a possible Allied invasion on the horizon. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "In the Last Days of World War II, Japan Fielded a Fleet of Kamikaze Mini-Subs," 11 Feb. 2019 But with Italy’s new government turning away boatloads of desperate people, the migration issue is entering a new and dangerous phase in European politics. Ian Bremmer, Time, "At Home and in Europe, Angela Merkel Is in Trouble," 21 June 2018 Understanding why requires a journey into the intricacies of Israel’s raucous electoral system—and shows how desperate Israel’s clashing political blocs are for every vote in an election that pollsters expect to be tight. Lahav Harkov, WSJ, "Why Cannabis Legalization Could Decide Israel’s Next Prime Minister," 4 Apr. 2019

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

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First Known Use of desperate

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for desperate

Latin desperatus, past participle of desperare — see despair entry 2

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Statistics for desperate

Last Updated

19 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for desperate

The first known use of desperate was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for desperate

desperate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of desperate

: very sad and upset because of having little or no hope : feeling or showing despair
: very bad or difficult to deal with
: done with all of your strength or energy and with little hope of succeeding

desperate

adjective
des·​per·​ate | \ ˈde-spə-rət How to pronounce desperate (audio) , -sprət\

Kids Definition of desperate

1 : very sad and worried and with little or no hope People became desperate for food.
2 : showing great worry and loss of hope a desperate call for help
3 : giving little reason to hope : causing despair a desperate situation
4 : reckless because of despair : rash He made a desperate attempt to escape.
5 : very severe The injury is in desperate need of attention.

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Comments on desperate

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