des·per·a·tion | \ˌdes-pə-ˈrā-shən \

Definition of desperation 

1 : loss of hope and surrender to despair

2 : a state of hopelessness leading to rashness

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Synonyms & Antonyms for desperation


despair, despond, despondence, despondency, forlornness, hopelessness


hope, hopefulness

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Examples of desperation in a Sentence

She felt overcome by desperation. the desperation of severe poverty They hired me out of desperation, because they couldn't get anyone else. Finally, in desperation, he tried to flee the country.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The idea for mitochondrial transplants was born of serendipity, desperation and the lucky meeting of two researchers at two Harvard teaching hospitals — Dr. Emani at Boston Children’s and James McCully at New England Deaconess Hospital. New York Times, "Dying Organs Restored to Life in Novel Experiments," 10 July 2018 What isn’t always apparent, primarily because of the humor of the writing, is the kind of malevolence and desperation that could compel a man to try to have another man killed. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Sex, Lies, and Bunnies in A Very English Scandal," 3 July 2018 The thriller moves swiftly as the desperation and violence escalate, gliding by on clear, competent prose that never gets in the way. Steph Cha, USA TODAY, "Smart women get caught up in deadly intrigue in page-turning 'The Banker's Wife'," 2 July 2018 But 2,000-plus kids remain separated from their parents in federal custody, while confusion along the border about how to handle families that have crossed since has further increased tension and desperation. Washington Post, "Ground Game: Will family separation outcry hurt Texas GOP?," 29 June 2018 Most physicians — though not all — say the malady is psychogenic, which only intensifies the victims’ desperation and deterioration. Peter Keough,, "An unflinching look at ‘The Pain of Others’," 28 June 2018 But reports suggest parents have faced desperation, and dead ends, in trying to locate their children. Jen Kirby, Vox, "500 migrant kids have been reunited with their parents. Thousands are still caught in the system.," 23 June 2018 Linney is known for quietly conveying neurosis and loneliness; even desperation. Isobel Thompson, A-LIST, "Centre Stage: Elizabeth Strout," 14 June 2018 The border crossing point at Ventimiglia has been the scene of protests and desperation for years as France has refused to let in migrants, many of whom are seeking to reach family in France or Germany. Fox News, "Tensions between Italy, France heat up as migrant ship diverted to Spain," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desperation.' 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 desperation

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

22 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for desperation

The first known use of desperation was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of desperation

: a strong feeling of sadness, fear, and loss of hope


des·per·a·tion | \ˌde-spə-ˈrā-shən \

Kids Definition of desperation

: a condition of hopelessness often leading to recklessness

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Comments on desperation

What made you want to look up desperation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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