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

Since Ronald Reagan, Republicans have disregarded their own dire warnings about the national debt, once in power—notably in 2011—leaving Democrats to fret about fiscal discipline. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, "Stock Markets Are Too Happy With the Election Outcome," 7 Nov. 2018 Their arrests had compounded the dire state of relations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Fox News, "Japanese man on way home after release from NKorean custody," 28 Aug. 2018 When the entity escapes and latches itself to Tilly's arm, things get much more dire. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "'Star Trek: Discovery' Is All About Friendship and Death This Week," 8 Feb. 2019 But your quest against dark circles doesn't need to feel so dire. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "How to Get Rid of Dark Circles," 4 Feb. 2019 If some of the more dire predictions for sea rise come true, scientists say coastal homes will become unlivable. Alex Harris And Joey Flechas, miamiherald, "This Miami street could be the blueprint for how the city handles sea level rise," 28 June 2018 Although the situation is dire, Rossi appears to have faith in his colleagues. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "'Criminal Minds’ Hints That Rossi's Wedding Will Have an 'Emotional' Cliffhanger," 6 Feb. 2019 The consequences are pretty dire for those who stay in the [compliant plans]. Dylan Scott, Vox, "We have a new worst-case scenario for Obamacare," 3 Dec. 2018 Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "Hurricane Florence downgraded to Cat 1, lashes North Carolina coast," 14 Sep. 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

12 Apr 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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