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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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

In desperation, the Benights checked themselves into Lancaster General Hospital, hoping they could then check themselves out and return home together. Ann Neumann, Harper's magazine, "Going to Extremes," 10 June 2019 In desperation, her doctors gave her a then-new immune-moderating drug. Marie Mccullough,, "How conquering a rare leukemia in children revolutionized cancer care for millions," 6 June 2019 But there’s no indication that the situation in Tijuana — the waiting, the poor conditions, or the desperation — is going to get any better on its own soon. Dara Lind, Vox, "How a march at the US-Mexico border descended into tear gas and chaos," 26 Nov. 2018 That tens of thousands knowingly risked being shot by Israeli forces speaks to the growing desperation on this narrow, blockaded 25-mile strip of land. NBC News, "Why Palestinians risk their lives to protest near Gaza-Israel fence," 21 June 2018 For the Royals, the desperation that accompanies a losing streak only lasted a few days. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Royals' skid ends at three as Jason Hammel beats Cardinals for his first win of year | The Kansas City Star," 22 May 2018 Japan's flying kamikaze suicide pilots with their explosive-laden planes were one example of the country's desperation. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "In the Last Days of World War II, Japan Fielded a Fleet of Kamikaze Mini-Subs," 11 Feb. 2019 Backstrom got a desperation, cross-ice pass from T.J. Oshie and beat Sergei Bobrovsky with 43 seconds left to lift the Washington Capitals over the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Tuesday night. USA TODAY, "Backstrom's late goal lifts Capitals over Blue Jackets, 3-2," 6 Feb. 2018 With the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season under way as of Friday, the desperation among those still without power had led some to take deadly risks to get it back. Leyla Santiago, CNN, "Still mending Maria's mess, Puerto Rico braces for a new hurricane season," 1 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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Statistics for desperation

Last Updated

18 Jun 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

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