des·​per·​a·​tion ˌde-spə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce desperation (audio)
: loss of hope and surrender to despair
: a state of hopelessness leading to rashness

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.
Recent Examples on the Web So, clearly this is an act of desperation on the part of Russia. CBS News, 10 Sep. 2023 Putin meeting with North Korea's Kim a sign of desperation? John Bacon, USA TODAY, 7 Sep. 2023 The cousins’ competitive depression is rivalled by that of a now dissolute Minister Payne, who at one point throws himself in front of a car in a characteristic show of desperation. Inkoo Kang, The New Yorker, 7 Sep. 2023 Then again, that Angels move reeked of desperation at the potential risk of a player’s development. Evan Grant, Dallas News, 7 Sep. 2023 Maryam al-Khawaja, who was previously jailed in Bahrain herself, said a hunger strike was an act of desperation. Vivian Nereim,, 6 Sep. 2023 The Padres picked him up in a fit of desperation after production at the position cratered. Bryce Miller, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Sep. 2023 But this act of desperation turns out to be inspired casting when Gary proves to be a natural, good at thinking fast on his feet and adept at sinking into a character. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Sep. 2023 Florida committed three more penalties and turned the ball over on down twice in desperation. Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English disperacioun, desperacioun, borrowed from Anglo-French desperaciun, borrowed from Latin dēspērātiōn-, dēspērātiō, from dēspērāre "to give up as hopeless, despair of" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at despair entry 2

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near desperation

Cite this Entry

“Desperation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


des·​per·​a·​tion ˌdes-pə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce desperation (audio)
: a loss of hope and surrender to misery or dread
: a state of hopelessness leading to extreme recklessness

More from Merriam-Webster on desperation

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