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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
1560-70; < Latin dīrus fearful, unlucky
Related forms
direly, adverb
direness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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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 10, 2013
Historical Examples
  • 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
  • Suppose she let him see how direly she needed money at this moment.

    Mrs. Vanderstein's jewels Mrs. Charles Bryce
  • I had hastened forward, convinced that my aid and protection were direly needed.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • Then a misfortune happened; trivial yet how direly pregnant!

    Darkness and Dawn George Allan England
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
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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