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[dahyuh r] /daɪər/
adjective, direr, direst.
causing or involving great fear or suffering; dreadful; terrible:
a dire calamity.
indicating trouble, disaster, misfortune, or the like:
dire predictions about the stock market.
urgent; desperate:
in dire need of food.
Origin of dire
First recorded in 1560-70, dire is from the Latin word dīrus fearful, unlucky
Related forms
direly, adverb
direness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for direly
Contemporary Examples
  • The beleagured nation has been direly impacted by troop and weapon flows into its north from neighbor Libya.

    Mali's in Trouble Justin Green January 11, 2013
Historical Examples
  • I had hastened forward, convinced that my aid and protection were direly needed.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • Suppose she let him see how direly she needed money at this moment.

    Mrs. Vanderstein's jewels Mrs. Charles Bryce
  • Then a misfortune happened; trivial yet how direly pregnant!

    Darkness and Dawn George Allan England
  • The want of cartridges was what the troops felt most direly.

  • It seemed as if the danger that threatened her so direly had vanished.

    The Delight Makers

    Adolf Bandelier
  • Many a good comrade's fate is known to me, so far, by that direly comprehensive word, missing.

    A Yeoman's Letters

    P. T. Ross
  • Clytie predicted most direly interesting things of him if he did not come to the Feet before he died.

    The Seeker

    Harry Leon Wilson
  • A nation may seize territory which it does not need, and exclude from it those who direly need its resources.

    The Fruits of Victory Norman Angell
  • And yet it is doubtful if he would have been recognised, so direly had tribulation altered him.

    The Blue Pavilions

    Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
British Dictionary definitions for direly


adjective (usually prenominal)
Also direful. disastrous; fearful
desperate; urgent: a dire need
foreboding disaster; ominous: a dire warning
Derived Forms
direly, adverb
direness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin dīrus ominous, fearful; related to Greek deos fear
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
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Word Origin and History for direly



1560s, from Latin dirus "fearful, awful, boding ill," of unknown origin; perhaps from Oscan and Umbrian and perhaps cognate with Greek deinos, from PIE root *dwei-.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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