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From Latin dēspērātus, past participle of dēspērō ‎(to be without hope)



desperate ‎(comparative more desperate, superlative most desperate)

  1. Being filled with, or in a state of despair; hopeless.
    • William Shakespeare
      Since his exile she hath despised me most, / Forsworn my company and rail'd at me, / That I am desperate of obtaining her.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 16, The Mirror and the Lamp:
      “[…] She takes the whole thing with desperate seriousness. But the others are all easy and jovial—thinking about the good fare that is soon to be eaten, about the hired fly, about anything.”
    I was so desperate at one point, I even went to see a loan shark.
  2. Without regard to danger or safety; reckless; furious.
    • Macaulay
      desperate expedients
    a desperate effort
  3. Beyond hope; causing despair; extremely perilous; irretrievable.
    a desperate disease;  desperate fortune
  4. Extreme, in a bad sense; outrageous.
    • William Shakespeare
      a desperate offendress against nature
    • Macaulay
      the most desperate of reprobates
  5. Extremely intense.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


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  1. second-person plural present active imperative of dēspērō