despairing

adjective

de·​spair·​ing di-ˈsper-iŋ How to pronounce despairing (audio)
: given to, arising from, or marked by despair : devoid of hope
despairingly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for despairing

despondent, despairing, desperate, hopeless mean having lost all or nearly all hope.

despondent implies a deep dejection arising from a conviction of the uselessness of further effort.

despondent about yet another rejection

despairing suggests the slipping away of all hope and often despondency.

despairing appeals for the return of the kidnapped child

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

hopeless suggests despair and the cessation of effort or resistance and often implies acceptance or resignation.

the situation of the trapped miners is hopeless

Example Sentences

despairing predictions regarding the effects of global overpopulation despairing applicants need to be reminded that most students are eventually accepted somewhere
Recent Examples on the Web But his writing about his experiences was a good deal more self-aware, funny and despairing than that claim might suggest. Daniel Lewis, New York Times, 18 Nov. 2022 But his writing about his experiences was a good deal more self-aware, funny and despairing than that claim might suggest. Daniel Lewis, New York Times, 18 Nov. 2022 The book is a despairing account of a boy and his father lurching across the cold, wretched, corpse-strewn, ashen landscape of a post-apocalyptic world. Dwight Garner, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2022 But his writing about his experiences was a good deal more self-aware, funny and despairing than that claim might suggest. Daniel Lewis, BostonGlobe.com, 19 Nov. 2022 The passage is despairing, self-critical, but also lightly satiric and curious, as if one’s most self-destructive tendencies could be generative. Maggie Doherty, The New Yorker, 28 Nov. 2022 For a man who succumbs to that kind of despairing metaphor, the prospect of nuclear holocaust does not seem so appalling. Sasha Frere-jones, Harper’s Magazine , 4 Nov. 2022 But something more despairing is at play in Gray’s conception of this story. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 28 Oct. 2022 Both felt that harm reduction efforts had saved their own lives, and helping others was a source of hope at a time that too often could feel despairing. Joanna Slater, Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'despairing.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

from present participle of despair entry 2

First Known Use

1589, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of despairing was in 1589

Dictionary Entries Near despairing

Cite this Entry

“Despairing.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/despairing. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

despairing

adjective
de·​spair·​ing
di-ˈspa(ə)r-iŋ,
-ˈspe(ə)r-
: given to, coming from, or marked by despair : not having hope
despairingly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on despairing

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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