Synonyms & Antonyms of desperate

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Frequently Asked Questions About desperate

How does the adjective desperate differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of desperate are despairing, despondent, and hopeless. While all these words mean "having lost all or nearly all hope," desperate implies despair that prompts reckless action or violence in the face of defeat or frustration.

one last desperate attempt to turn the tide of battle

Where would despairing be a reasonable alternative to desperate?

While the synonyms despairing and desperate are close in meaning, despairing suggests the slipping away of all hope and often despondency.

despairing appeals for the return of the kidnapped child

When might despondent be a better fit than desperate?

The words despondent and desperate can be used in similar contexts, but despondent implies a deep dejection arising from a conviction of the uselessness of further effort.

despondent about yet another rejection

In what contexts can hopeless take the place of desperate?

The meanings of hopeless and desperate largely overlap; however, hopeless suggests despair and the cessation of effort or resistance and often implies acceptance or resignation.

the situation of the trapped miners is hopeless

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The first known use of desperate was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Desperate.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on desperate

Nglish: Translation of desperate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of desperate for Arabic Speakers


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