des·​per·​a·​tion | \ ˌde-spə-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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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 But for Trump backers, impeachment has only exposed Democrats’ desperation. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "‘They want to nullify your ballots,’ Trump tells Iowa rally as impeachment trial comes to a head," 31 Jan. 2020 This is most often an act of desperation or cynicism, and sometimes both. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Bill that would legalize sports betting in Kentucky is in doubt ... if not 'in trouble'," 31 Jan. 2020 Her Anna — thwarted at work as well as at home — evinces desperation at all times. Peter Marks, Washington Post, "Beware. This stylish ‘Medea’ adaptation offers no escape, for Rose Byrne or for you.," 31 Jan. 2020 Eric Ayala tracked down the loose ball and launched a desperation three-pointer that wasn't close and UW had an improbable victory. Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin 56, Maryland 54: Brad Davison follows sensational defensive play with winning three for UW," 14 Jan. 2020 One of his interceptions bounced off the hands of running back Mike Boone in the first half and the other came on a desperation heave on the final play. Chris Tomasson, Twin Cities, "Vikings rest most starters, lose regular-season finale to Bears 21-19," 29 Dec. 2019 Unable to run or fight, desperation overcame their greed and the conquistadors tossed the treasures into the water. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "Royal Treasures, Lost and Found," 23 Jan. 2020 With determination rather than desperation fueling the lyrics, the landmark single never falters in its dramatic pacing. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 100 Greatest K-Pop Songs of the 2010s: Staff List," 25 Nov. 2019 John Wick 3: Parabellum > Joker Chad Stahelski’s slapstick violence wittily satirizes Millennial desperation (imagine if John Woo had Fred Astaire’s aplomb). Armond White, National Review, "The 15th Annual Better-Than List," 3 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for desperation

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for desperation

Last Updated

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Desperation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for desperation


How to pronounce desperation (audio)

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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