dire

adjective
\ 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

Although numerous mountain towns have prepared for high water, Lake City’s predicament was particularly dire and threatened lives before the emergency crews arrived, state officials said. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "18,000 sandbags later, Lake City flood fears diminish even as rivers rise across southwestern Colorado," 16 June 2019 If that happened, the economic consequences for Mexico could be dire, officials there believe. Michael D. Shear, New York Times, "Mexico and the U.S. Have Made Progress Toward Averting Tariffs," 6 June 2019 Likewise, after decades of dire warning, the environmental problem remains fundamentally unaddressed. Adam Tooze, The New York Review of Books, "Democracy and Its Discontents," 6 June 2019 The numbers were dire enough, though, that GE held a special call for investors in January 2018, only days before it was scheduled to release earnings. Thomas Gryta And Ted Mann, WSJ, "GE Powered the American Century—Then It Burned Out," 14 Dec. 2018 With chances still better than even, that might not seem like too dire a situation—but for a team that was initially considered such an easy lock in the NL East? Emma Baccellieri, SI.com, "What Is Wrong With the Washington Nationals?," 6 July 2018 The Last Man was a dire, pessimistic imagining of the human race's demise by plague in 21st century (hmm). refinery29.com, "The True Story Behind Mary Shelley Is Actual 19th Century Rock & Roll," 24 May 2018 Only time will tell if Google can manage a similar escape from a fine that, while huge, is not quite so dire as a breakup. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "What's Behind Google's Enormous $5 Billion Fine from the EU," 18 July 2018 The threat of landslides is so dire that her neighbors have evacuated. Kristen Gelineau, Fox News, "Nowhere to run: Rohingya hunker down as monsoon arrives," 17 July 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near dire

dirca

dird

dirdum

dire

direct

directable

direct-acting

Statistics for dire

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dire

The first known use of dire was in 1565

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More Definitions for dire

dire

adjective

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

dire

adjective
\ 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dire

Spanish Central: Translation of dire

Nglish: Translation of dire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dire for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dire

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