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

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 Democrats' best hope now is that things are so dire for them that their base will make Supreme Court picks more of a priority, even in a congressional election year where the president isn't on the ballot. Amber Phillips, Washington Post, "Why Democrats have basically no chance of stopping Trump’s Supreme Court pick," 28 June 2018 This is an incredibly difficult result to call, simply because both sides have been so dire recently. SI.com, "Leicester City vs Arsenal Preview: Recent Form, Team News, Classic Encounter & More," 8 May 2018 Milk management system The situation has become so dire that dairy marketing cooperatives have started providing suicide hotline information to members along with milk checks. Rick Barrett, USA TODAY, "America's Dairyland reels as low milk prices destroy family farms," 1 May 2018 Things were so dire then that Chef Taz, as he's known, was catering out of his house and delivering food from the trunk of his car. Jennifer Dixon, Detroit Free Press, "Evictions, flipping tarnish effort to turn squatters into homeowners," 26 Apr. 2018 In fact, Indigenous elders in Canada gathered a few years ago to discuss climate change, its dire effects, and the desperate need to address it. Ruth Hopkins, Teen Vogue, "The Climate Disaster We Fear Is Already Happening," 22 Apr. 2019 Then, during the Great Depression, retailers made a push to commercialize the holiday in an attempt to make money during dire financial times. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "When Is Father's Day? Here's How Long You Have to Pick out the Perfect Gift for Dad," 3 Apr. 2019

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

7 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

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