dire

adjective
\ ˈdī(-ə)r \
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 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released a report concluding that the world only has about 12 years before the most dire consequences set in. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "The Earth May Be Warming Even Faster Than We Thought," 2 Nov. 2018 The North Korean leadership is well aware that the stakes are high, and that a breakdown in talks with Washington could have dire consequences. Fox News, "AP Analysis: In North and South Korea, 2 views of summit," 19 Sep. 2018 That’s not to say that other challenge-takers haven’t also seen dire consequences. Sarah Mearhoff, Teen Vogue, "A "Fire Challenge" Gone Wrong Left a 12-Year-Old With Serious Burns," 21 Aug. 2018 As Vox’s Dara Lind reports, this conflict was a culmination of months of tension over the impending arrival of migrants fleeing dire situations in their home countries — amplified by President Donald Trump’s explosive rhetoric on the campaign trail. Li Zhou, Vox, "We asked 7 senators how Congress should respond to the tear-gassing of children at the border," 27 Nov. 2018 Use international numbers to get ahead In dire situations, when the airline call centers have hour-plus hold times, consider using Skype from your smartphone to call an international number for your airline. Eric Jordan, Condé Nast Traveler, "What to Do When Your Flight Is Canceled or Delayed," 20 Nov. 2018 The Norwegian frigate’s captain, realizing his dire situation, made the desperate decision to run the ship onto the rocky Norwegian coastline. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "That Wrecked Norwegian Frigate Is Pretty Much Toast," 13 Nov. 2018 But Sweden, the Netherlands and Peru rejected it on Wednesday on grounds that Yemen’s dire situation warranted a resolution, which has stronger wording. Farnaz Fassihi, WSJ, "International Yemen Peace Effort Stumbles Anew," 9 Nov. 2018 There, they are forced to build new alliances and find ways to cope with their increasingly dire situations. Candice Frederick, Teen Vogue, ""Orange Is the New Black" Star Adrienne C. Moore on Cindy’s Ultimate Betrayal," 25 Aug. 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

18 Jan 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 \
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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