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

One man who managed to slip out of Ghazni early on Monday and make his way over back roads to the capital Kabul said desperation was setting in among the those who couldn’t afford to flee. Ehsanullah Amiri, WSJ, "Afghan Government Struggles to Oust Taliban From Strategic City," 13 Aug. 2018 Expensive Jeans As a result of this economic crisis, desperation and frustration have led to a surge in violence, (including, as CNN reported, an apparent assassination attempt on President Maduro). Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "Pirates Have Returned to the Caribbean Off the Coast of Venezuela," 13 Aug. 2018 Perhaps this is another case where desperation ends up the mother of invention, though. Paul Dehner Jr.,, "Bengals Xtra: Jungle Pass risky, intriguing olive branch to fans," 17 June 2018 JR Smith's desperation 3 at the final buzzer, following a Darren Collison miss of a free throw, clanged off the rim. Joe Vardon,, "Cavaliers suffer grisly loss to Pacers in Game 3, 92-90," 21 Apr. 2018 Both teams came into the game on three-game losing streaks, but that desperation led to ugly play for the Pelicans most of the night, and the Thunder made them pay. William Guillory,, "Sloppy Pelicans lose fourth straight as they free-fall in Western Conference standings," 1 Apr. 2018 Lamont Walker’s desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer misfired, handing TSU its third loss in four games. Richard Dean, Houston Chronicle, "Tigers stumble in loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff," 22 Jan. 2018 There’s that same desperation to force connections where none were necessary, to make the world smaller by creating new characters, then shoehorning them into the previously existing lore. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the franchise’s Attack of the Clones when it should be The Last Jedi," 27 Nov. 2018 The figure of Cormery’s domineering grandmother, taking a rawhide switch to the troublemaking boy or up to her elbow in a toilet recovering a two-franc piece, is a synecdoche for the country’s intransigence and desperation. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Book Review: Classics Illustrated," 16 Nov. 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

17 Dec 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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