- 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for direness
Should John Kerry, given his commitment and the direness of the situation, pack his bags?Everyone Says John Kerry Should Stay Out of the Middle East
July 13, 2014
- Also: direful disastrous; fearful
- desperate; urgenta dire need
- foreboding disaster; ominousa dire warning
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
Word Origin and History for direness
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