\ ˈdī(-ə)r How to pronounce dire (audio) \
direr; direst

Definition of dire

1a : exciting horror dire suffering
b : dismal, oppressive dire days
2 : warning of disaster a dire forecast
3a : desperately urgent in dire need of assistance
b : extreme dire poverty

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Other Words from dire

direly adverb
direness noun

Dire Straits and Furies

Dire and fury share a history in Roman mythology, as each of these words is connected to the Erinyes, the avenging and terrifying deities of ancient myth who tormented criminals. The Romans referred to these goddesses as either the Dirae or the Furiae. The former is from the Latin word dirus, from which dire is descended, and the latter comes from furere, from where we get fury. The word dire is often found in conjunction with straits; in dire straits is used of a situation that is very bad or difficult. Our records indicate that this phrase began to be used in English at the end of the 18th century, when it appeared in Francis Fawkes’s The Argonautics of Apollonius Rhodius: “When now the heroes through the vast profound, Reach the dire straits with rocks encompass’d round.”

Examples of dire in a Sentence

The alleged threat posed by Yellowstone's 3,600 buffalo came from the fact that they carry brucella, a bacterium that cycles harmlessly enough in Bison bison but has considerably more dire effects on cattle. — Christopher Ketcham, Harper's, June 2008 Whether one is a lowly farmer or an urban worker, a student, professional, or a member of the elite, a meal is not complete unless rice is served to accompany the main viand of pork, fish, chicken, beef, vegetables or in the most dire circumstances, dry fish or salt. — Georgina R. Encanto, Food, April 2000 All wild tigers are threatened with extinction, but Sumatran tigers are in especially dire straits because the world's zoos have only 235 of them in captive-breeding programs. Audubon, November-December 1998 The circumstances are now more dire than ever. Some analysts are issuing dire economic forecasts. They live in dire poverty.
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Recent Examples on the Web The situation was so dire the Seahawks brought Marshawn Lynch out of retirement mothballs and suited him up for the playoffs. oregonlive, "Will Jamal Adams anchor a new ‘Legion of Boom?‘: 10 questions facing the Seattle Seahawks as NFL training camp opens," 31 July 2020 What is known is that coronavirus resulted in record unemployment, dire projections for evictions and bought many of the underlying systemic socio-economic problems into sharp focus. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, "Experts, police say surge in gun violence in Cleveland, nation to coronavirus-related stressors," 30 July 2020 There's a collective uncertainty about where things are headed next, since just as many think things will get better as get worse, but that nonetheless reflects more optimism than Americans had last week, when their outlook was even more dire. CBS News, "CBS News Eye on Trends: The latest from the Election & Survey Unit," 30 July 2020 Early in the pandemic, patients were left alone precisely because the crisis was so dire. Zeynep Tufekci, The Atlantic, "The Tragic Loss of Coronavirus Patients’ Final Words," 9 July 2020 The effort to find critical life-saving breathing machines was so dire that a Detroit ER doctor garnered global attention for the idea of rigging one ventilator to assist two or more patients. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "GM quietly helped company set up ventilator assembly line after a cold call," 3 July 2020 Independence Day is much more dire than fireworks and hot dog-eating contests in this 1996 film starring Will Smith. Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, "Fourth of July from home? A guide to fireworks specials and holiday-themed movies and shows," 3 July 2020 But the elevated number of coronavirus cases in the United States coupled with dire economic projections from experts including the US central bank suggest continued pain for companies and workers. Charles Riley, CNN, "Global stocks retreat as coronavirus fears return," 11 June 2020 An agenda from the district’s logistics work group to figure out how to reopen schools shows some dire forecasts. Heather Knight, SFChronicle.com, "SF school district already flunked distance learning. Why haven’t officials spent the summer cramming to ace it?," 11 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dire.' 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 dire

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for dire

Latin dirus; akin to Greek deinos terrifying, Sanskrit dveṣṭi he hates

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Statistics for dire

Last Updated

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dire. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for dire

How to pronounce dire (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dire

: very bad : causing great fear or worry
: warning of disaster : showing a very bad future
: requiring immediate action : very urgent
\ ˈdīr How to pronounce dire (audio) \
direr; direst

Kids Definition of dire

1 : causing horror or worry : dreadful a dire warning
2 : very urgent or serious in dire need

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More from Merriam-Webster on dire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dire

Spanish Central: Translation of dire

Nglish: Translation of dire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dire for Arabic Speakers

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