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

Palace are in dire need of a prolific striker and could do far worse than offer a youth starlet the opportunity to prove himself at the top level. SI.com, "Crystal Palace: 5 of the Eagles' Best Youngsters Who Deserve a Shot at the First Team in 2019/20," 23 July 2019 Dean is in dire need of a new life direction and an escape from the spotlight in New York City. Mary Cadden, USA TODAY, "Pitch-perfect 'Evvie Drake Starts Over' proves NPR's Linda Holmes a natural novelist," 25 June 2019 That way, employees know whether their devices are in dire need of upgrades. Sara Castellanos, WSJ, "IBM CIO Focuses on User Experience to Keep Staff Happy," 19 June 2019 The film introduced a new generation to Shakespearean tragedy, created notoriety at the time for showing Hussey topless and was a big hit for Paramount when the studio was in dire need of one. Duane Byrge, The Hollywood Reporter, "Franco Zeffirelli, Oscar-Nominated Director for 'Romeo and Juliet,' Dies at 96," 15 June 2019 These elderly homeowners were wooed into borrowing money through the special program by attractive sales pitches or a dire need for cash – or both. USA Today, "Seniors were sold a risk-free retirement with reverse mortgages. Now they face foreclosure.," 12 June 2019 But the 149-year-old Pimlico Race Course is in dire need of repair and renovation. Liz Clarke, The Seattle Times, "At the center of Kentucky Derby controversy, War of Will is vindicated with victory in Preakness Stakes," 18 May 2019 If your life has been in dire need of a Noah Centineo and Ross Butler reunion, there's good news. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Ross Butler Will Star in the "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" Sequel As Peter Kavinsky's Best Friend," 1 Apr. 2019 Healthcare, education, our very electoral machinery…nearly every component of our civic infrastructure is in dire need of updating. Smith Henderson, Popular Mechanics, "I Went to the Opening of Elon Musk's First Boring Company Tunnel and Here Is What I Found," 19 Dec. 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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Learn More about dire

Dictionary Entries near dire

dirca

dird

dirdum

dire

direct

directable

direct-acting

Statistics for dire

Last Updated

2 Aug 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

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