des·​per·​a·​tion | \ ˌdes-pə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce desperation (audio) \

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

Michael and the compound—the walls Laurie built out of her fear, pain, anger, and desperation—burn to the ground. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Halloween Is More Than a Horror Movie—It's a Tribute to Mothers and Daughters," 20 Oct. 2018 But where some citizens of Indianapolis saw desperation, Mary Howard Wheeler and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union saw individuals who needed hope, love and a place to stay. Wheeler Mission, Indianapolis Star, "True to its roots: Wheeler Mission focuses on women and homelessness," 20 June 2018 But consider that this may be a signal of desperation, not greed., "Life sciences bill sent to the governor," 8 June 2018 Professors could smell the desperation, the sour hint of terror-sweat on my skin. Latria Graham, Outside Online, "We're Here. You Just Don't See Us.," 10 Apr. 2018 But while the last two runs were filled with fun and innocence (2015-16) and desperation (2016-17), the Blazers' latest chase for the playoffs has been rather mundane. Joe Freeman,, "As Portland Trail Blazers have matured into NBA's hottest team, their mindset is: What streak?," 13 Oct. 2017 What Gaines does to perfection is tap into that desperation, that need to give all your effort and leave nothing behind. Esquire, "Esquire's Movie Coaches Tournament: Vote for the Most Inspirational Movie Coach in Hollywood History," 16 Nov. 2015 Sean Rayford/Getty Images After a week of political and religious violence, there’s a near desperation among the political press to hear President Trump apologize for whipping up crowds and feeding online hate. Laura Mcgann, Vox, "Let’s stop pretending Trump is just pretending," 30 Oct. 2018 The Rockets were much more energetic protecting their basket in Game 2, playing with a desperation not uncommon for teams trailing in a series. Rohan Nadkarni,, "P.J. Tucker and Houston's Role Players Step Up as the Rockets Demolish the Warriors," 17 May 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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Statistics for desperation

Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for desperation

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

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More Definitions for desperation



English Language Learners Definition of desperation

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


des·​per·​a·​tion | \ ˌde-spə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce desperation (audio) \

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).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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