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From Middle English, equivalent to wan- +‎ hope. Cognate with Scots wanhop, wanhope (wanhope, despair), West Frisian wanhope (wanhope, despair), Dutch wanhoop (despair).



wanhope (plural wanhopes)

  1. (UK dialectal or archaic) Lack of hope; hopelessness; despair.
    • Late 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer, ‘The Knight's Tale’, Canterbury Tales:
      Wel oughte I sterve in wanhope and distresse. / Farwel my lif, my lust, and my gladnesse!
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, Vol. II, Book XVI:
      ‘A, Sir Bors, discomforte you nat, nor falle nat into no wanhope, for I shall telle you tydyngis such as they be – for truly he ys dede.’
    • 1898, Georgiana Lea Morril editor, Speculum Gy de Warewyke: An English Poem, page 57:
      Wanhope: a fine English word, suggesting unhope of Langland's story of the cats and the mice, and described in Ipotis, []
    • 1991, Vladimir Ivir, Damir Kalogjera editor, Languages in Contact and Contrast, ISBN 9783110125740, page 411:
      If [] such good old English words as inwit and wanhope should be rehabilitated (and they have been pushing up their heads for thirty years), we should gain a great deal. (Collected essays, 1928, III.68)
    • 2007, Michael D. C. Drout, J.R.R. Tolkien encyclopedia: scholarship and critical assessment:
      Both despair and wanhope are generally defined as a complete loss or lack of hope and being overcome by sense of futility or defeat.
  2. Vain hope; delusion.