Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To lose all hope: despaired of reaching shore safely.
  • intransitive v. To be overcome by a sense of futility or defeat.
  • n. Complete loss of hope.
  • n. One despaired of or causing despair: unmotivated students that are the despair of their teachers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To give up as beyond hope or expectation; to despair of.
  • v. To cause to despair.
  • v. To be hopeless; to have no hope; to give up all hope or expectation.
  • n. Loss of hope; utter hopelessness; complete despondency.
  • n. That which is despaired of.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Loss of hope; utter hopelessness; complete despondency.
  • n. That which is despaired of.
  • intransitive v. To be hopeless; to have no hope; to give up all hope or expectation; -- often with of.
  • transitive v. To give up as beyond hope or expectation; to despair of.
  • transitive v. To cause to despair.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To lose hope; be without hope; give up all hope or expectation: followed by of before an object.
  • Synonyms Despair, Despond. See despond.
  • To give up hope of; lose confidence in.
  • To cause to despair; deprive of hope.
  • n. Hopelessness; a hopeless state; utter lack of hope or expectation.
  • n. That which causes hopelessness; that of which there is no hope.
  • n. Synonyms Despondency, Despair, Desperation. Despondency is a loss of hope sufficient to produce a loss of courage and a disposition to relax or relinquish effort, the despondent person tending to sink into spiritless inaction. Despair means a total loss of hope; despondency does not. Despair naturally destroys courage and stops all effort, but may produce a new kind of courage and fierce activity founded upon the sense that there is nothing worse to be feared. In this despair is akin to desperation, which is an active state and always tends to produce a furious struggle against adverse circumstances, even when the situation is utterly hopeless.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. abandon hope; give up hope; lose heart
  • n. a state in which all hope is lost or absent
  • n. the feeling that everything is wrong and nothing will turn out well

Etymologies

Middle English despeiren, from Old French desperer, from Latin dēspērāre : dē-, de- + spērāre, to hope; see spē- in Indo-European roots. N., from Middle English despeir, from Anglo-Norman, from Old French desperer, to despair.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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  • 'I can endure my own despair better than another man's hope.' -William Welsh

    February 18, 2008