- reckless or dangerous because of despair, hopelessness, or urgency: a desperate killer.
- having an urgent need, desire, etc.: desperate for attention; desperate to find a job.
- leaving little or no hope; very serious or dangerous: a desperate illness.
- extremely bad; intolerable or shocking: clothes in desperate taste.
- extreme or excessive.
- making a final, ultimate effort; giving all: a desperate attempt to save a life.
- actuated by a feeling of hopelessness.
- having no hope; giving in to despair.
- Obsolete. a desperado.
Origin of desperate
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for desperate
We might have thought The Comeback was about a desperate actress's shameless struggle for fame.‘The Comeback’ Finale: Give Lisa Kudrow All of the Awards
December 29, 2014
Brinsley got out of jail last July, and was desperate and aimless.Alleged Cop Killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley Had a Death Wish
December 22, 2014
After what seemed a desperate eternity, a doctor shook his head.'Please Don't Die!': The Frantic Battle to Save Murdered Cops
December 22, 2014
Sam watches her fall apart, tear herself apart and is desperate.Grief: The Real Monster in The Babadook
December 19, 2014
He and Jessen convinced a stunned and desperate CIA that they were the ones to run a new interrogation program.The Luxury Homes That Torture and Your Tax Dollars Built
December 12, 2014
He turned and began to run homewards, like a hunted man in desperate flight.Viviette
William J. Locke
Desperate hope in another man's God may do something for us, but it cannot do much.The Conquest of Fear
In this desperate situation he determined to send a written despatch to Athens.Stories from Thucydides
H. L. Havell
It may be, however, that matters are not so desperate as they appear.Main Street
"You're a desperate fellow," she said, half scared, and she laughed a little.The Foolish Lovers
St. John G. Ervine
- careless of danger, as from despair; utterly reckless
- (of an act) reckless; risky
- used or undertaken in desperation or as a last resortdesperate measures
- critical; very gravein desperate need
- (often postpositive and foll by for) in distress and having a great need or desire
- moved by or showing despair or hopelessness; despairing
Word Origin and History for desperate
early 15c., "despairing, hopeless," from Latin desperatus "given up, despaired of," past participle of desperare (see despair (v.)). Sense of "driven to recklessness" is from late 15c.; weakened sense of "having a great desire for" is from 1950s. Related: Desperately.