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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for direst
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Yet criticism may be too rigorous, and genius too sensible to its direst attacks.

  • She said it in a voice which might have gone with the direst calamity that could befall.

    In Convent Walls Emily Sarah Holt
  • And he began work to which men were forced only by slavery or the direst need.

    Quo Vadis Henryk Sienkiewicz
  • When they had lived a long life together, they were thrown into direst need.

    Modern Icelandic Plays Jhann Sigurjnsson
  • Kit realized that Perez was launching against her the direst weight of evil the Mexican or Indian mind has to face.

    The Treasure Trail Marah Ellis Ryan
  • India, with poverty, is the direst of all penal settlements.

    A Rent In A Cloud Charles James Lever
British Dictionary definitions for direst


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 direst



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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