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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from desperate

desperateness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for desperate

Synonyms

Antonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Netflix has not yet confirmed that the show will be returning for a fourth season, but fans are desperate for answers. Katie Bowlby, Country Living, 18 July 2021 The entire Southwest, which has been desperate for rain after two years of dismal monsoon activity, has been hammered lately with storms. Felica Fonseca, ajc, 16 July 2021 The region that has been desperate for rain after two years of dismal monsoon activity has been hammered lately, with more rain in the forecast. Felica Fonseca, The Arizona Republic, 16 July 2021 The entire Southwest that has been desperate for rain after two years of dismal monsoon activity has been hammered lately, with more rain in the forecast. Felicia Fonseca, Anchorage Daily News, 15 July 2021 The entire Southwest that has been desperate for rain after two years of dismal monsoon activity has been hammered lately, with more rain in the forecast. BostonGlobe.com, 14 July 2021 Crushed by an economic crisis and exhausted by pandemic lockdowns, Turks were desperate for some summer relief. New York Times, 9 July 2021 The gentle manatee, a source of fascination, affection and pride throughout Florida's history, is desperate for help. Arkansas Online, 9 July 2021 Bloomies' launch comes at a time when retailers -- particularly traditional department stores -- are desperate for shoppers. Moira Ritter, CNN, 7 July 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About desperate

Time Traveler for desperate

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near desperate

desperadoism

desperate

desperately

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for desperate

Last Updated

24 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Desperate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/desperate. Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on desperate

Nglish: Translation of desperate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of desperate for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!