Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To lose all hope.
  • intransitive verb To be overcome by a sense of futility or defeat.
  • noun Complete loss of hope.
  • noun One despaired of or causing despair.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun Hopelessness; a hopeless state; utter lack of hope or expectation.
  • noun That which causes hopelessness; that of which there is no hope.
  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive, obsolete To give up as beyond hope or expectation; to despair of.
  • verb transitive, obsolete To cause to despair.
  • verb intransitive, often with “of” To be hopeless; to have no hope; to give up all hope or expectation.
  • noun Loss of hope; utter hopelessness; complete despondency.
  • noun That which is despaired of.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[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.]

Examples

  • Consequently, to be able to despair is an infinite advantage, and yet to be in despair is not only the worst misfortune and misery — no, it is ruination.

    I want to be somebody! Who can I be?

  • But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.

    Middlemarch: a study of provincial life (1900)

  • But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.

    Middlemarch

  • But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.

    Middlemarch

  • Among the ranks of reformers I have spoken to, a kind of despair is already setting in.

    Archive 2008-06-01

  • Among the ranks of reformers I have spoken to, a kind of despair is already setting in.

    Your Right Hand Thief

  • Silberman recently told me he was in "despair" about the Court.

    Without Precedent

  • Silberman recently told me he was in "despair" about the Court.

    Without Precedent

  • Silberman recently told me he was in "despair" about the Court.

    Without Precedent

  • A head-in-the-sand outlook which drives me to despair is when friends and online posters break out crime statistics for U.S. cities, e.g; "Washington DC is x times worse, so we must be safe in Michoacán."

    Page 3

Comments

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

    February 18, 2008