Definitions

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

  • adjective Having lost all hope; despairing.
  • adjective Marked by, arising from, or showing despair.
  • adjective Reckless or violent because of despair.
  • adjective Undertaken out of extreme urgency or as a last resort.
  • adjective Nearly hopeless; critical.
  • adjective Suffering or driven by great need or distress.
  • adjective Extremely intense.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

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

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Middle English desperat, from Latin dēspērātus, past participle of dēspērāre, to despair; see despair.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

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

  • 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.

    Mr Harper, Canada Deserves Better

  • 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

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