Definitions

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

  • adj. Having lost all hope; despairing.
  • adj. Marked by, arising from, or showing despair: the desperate look of hunger; a desperate cry for help.
  • adj. Reckless or violent because of despair: a desperate criminal.
  • adj. Undertaken out of extreme urgency or as a last resort: a desperate attempt to save the family business.
  • adj. Nearly hopeless; critical: a desperate illness; a desperate situation.
  • adj. Suffering or driven by great need or distress: desperate for recognition.
  • adj. Extremely intense: felt a desperate urge to tell the truth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Being filled with, or in a state of despair; hopeless.
  • adj. Having reckless abandon in the pursuit of an extreme desire.
  • adj. Extremely intense.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Without hope; given to despair; hopeless.
  • adj. Beyond hope; causing despair; extremely perilous; irretrievable; past cure, or, at least, extremely dangerous
  • adj. Proceeding from, or suggested by, despair; without regard to danger or safety; reckless; furious.
  • adj. Extreme, in a bad sense; outrageous; -- used to mark the extreme predominance of a bad quality.
  • n. One desperate or hopeless.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having no hope; hopeless; despairing.
  • Without care for safety; extremely rash; reckless from despair, passion, or ferocity: as, a desperate man.
  • Done or resorted to without regard to consequences, or in the last extremity; showing despair or recklessness; extremely hazardous: as, a desperate undertaking; desperate remedies.
  • Beyond hope of recovery; irretrievable; irremediable; hopeless: as, desperate fortunes; a desperate situation or condition.
  • Such as to be despaired of; extremely difficult to do, manage, cure, or reclaim.
  • Synonyms and Headlong, violent, mad, wild, furious, frantic.

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

  • adj. desperately determined
  • n. a person who is frightened and in need of help
  • adj. showing extreme urgency or intensity especially because of great need or desire
  • adj. arising from or marked by despair or loss of hope
  • adj. fraught with extreme danger; nearly hopeless
  • adj. (of persons) dangerously reckless or violent as from urgency or despair
  • adj. showing extreme courage; especially of actions courageously undertaken in desperation as a last resort

Etymologies

Middle English desperat, from Latin dēspērātus, past participle of dēspērāre, to despair; see despair.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin dēspērātus, past participle of dēspērō ("to be without hope") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Bafyau appealed to them to refuse to be recruited by what he called desperate politicians.

    Election Violence Leaves 12 Dead in Nigerian Akwa Ibom State

  • So I've been -- I've been happy to be able to, you know, to pick the project that I choose and not have to make what I call desperate career choices.

    CNN Transcript Sep 25, 2009

  • Opposition MPs have assailed Harper for what they called a desperate ploy to cling to power despite the fact that proroguing Parliament would preclude any major spending at a time of economic crisis.

    Archive 2008-12-01

  • In Iraq today, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is blaming what he calls desperate terrorists and Saddamists for a bloody attack at a Baghdad University.

    CNN Transcript Jan 16, 2007

  • (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: The mayor of New Orleans has issued what he calls a desperate S.O.S. appeal to try to help people stranded, stuck inside the New Orleans Convention Center as opposed to the Superdome.

    CNN Transcript Sep 1, 2005

  • That she gave new meaning to the word desperate, for another.

    Sam

  • The doorman caught a glimpse of him engaged in what he described as a desperate fight with another man and ran to fetch the constables he'd just seen pass by.

    Ripping Time

  • Mr Swanepoel said it was clear that the ANC was attempting to discredit the NP in the eyes of the black community in what he termed a desperate attempt to hold on to their support.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • But he also took a hard slap at what he termed "desperate" Republican rivals who have stepped up their attacks on his record in private business - a group that includes Perry, Gingrich and Huntsman.

    News - latimes.com

  • Ferguson, in typically searingly honest form, also touched on the "crazy prices" paid by some clubs - no doubt including Manchester City - in what he dubbed their "desperate" search for silverware.

    Telegraph.co.uk - Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph

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