Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[dih-spair] /dɪˈspɛər/
loss of hope; hopelessness.
someone or something that causes hopelessness:
He is the despair of his mother.
verb (used without object)
to lose, give up, or be without hope (often followed by of):
to despair of humanity.
verb (used with object)
Obsolete. to give up hope of.
Origin of despair
1275-1325; Middle English despeir (noun), despeiren (v.) < Anglo-French despeir, Old French despoir (noun), despeir-, tonic stem of desperer (v.) < Latin dēspērāre to be without hope, equivalent to dē- de- + spērāre to hope, derivative of spēs hope
Related forms
despairer, noun
self-despair, noun
undespaired, adjective
1. gloom, disheartenment.
1. hope.
Synonym Study
1.Despair, desperation, despondency, discouragement, hopelessness refer to a state of mind caused by circumstances that seem too much to cope with. Despair suggests total loss of hope, which may be passive or may drive one to furious efforts, even if at random: in the depths of despair; courage born of despair. Desperation is usually an active state, the abandonment of hope impelling to a furious struggle against adverse circumstances, with utter disregard of consequences: an act of desperation when everything else had failed. Despondency is a state of deep gloom and disheartenment: a spell of despondency. Discouragement is a loss of courage, hope, and ambition because of obstacles, frustrations, etc.: His optimism yielded to discouragement. Hopelessness is a loss of hope so complete as to result in a more or less permanent state of passive despair: a state of hopelessness and apathy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for despaired
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Phoebe, looking at her attentively, despaired of getting any nearer the truth from any of them.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • I take cases that others have despaired of, and I cure them right off.

    The Stark Munro Letters J. Stark Munro
  • Had SHE ever despaired of seeing him again—on this earth and in the flesh?

    The Portygee Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • His life was despaired of, and those about him began to suspect some evil spell.

    The Phantom World Augustin Calmet
  • Madame, you see, despaired by now of controlling the impropriety of her niece's expressions.

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for despaired


(intransitive) often foll by of. to lose or give up hope: I despair of his coming
(transitive) (obsolete) to give up hope of; lose hope in
total loss of hope
a person or thing that causes hopelessness or for which there is no hope
Word Origin
C14: from Old French despoir hopelessness, from desperer to despair, from Latin dēspērāre, from de- + spērāre to hope
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for despaired



c.1300, from Anglo-French despeir, Old French despoir, from desperer (see despair (v.)). Replaced native wanhope.



early 14c., from stem of Old French desperer "be dismayed, lose hope, despair," from Latin desperare "to despair, to lose all hope," from de- "without" + sperare "to hope," from spes "hope" (see speed). Related: Despaired; despairing; despairingly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for despaired

Word Value for despaired

Scrabble Words With Friends