• synonyms


[des-puh-rey-shuh n]
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  1. the state of being desperate or of having the recklessness of despair.
  2. the act or fact of despairing; despair.
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Origin of desperation

1325–75; Middle English desperacioun < Latin dēspērātiōn- (stem of dēspērātiō). See desperate, -ion

Synonym study

1. See despair.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for desperation

heartache, gloom, melancholy, anxiety, pain, agony, sorrow, grief, discomfort, despair, misery, fear, anguish, desolation, unhappiness, madness, defiance, distress, dejection, despondency

Examples from the Web for desperation

Contemporary Examples of desperation

Historical Examples of desperation

  • But, nerved as he was by desperation, he found the task greater than he could compass.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • At last in desperation you embody it in a poem, an essay, a story.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • Burke inquired in desperation before the plaintive outburst.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Her desperation lent her invention; just in this one way he must not find her out.

  • Perhaps in desperation you may assume the role of cook yourself.

    A Woman Tenderfoot

    Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson

British Dictionary definitions for desperation


  1. desperate recklessness
  2. the act of despairing or the state of being desperate
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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 desperation


mid-14c., from Middle French désperation or directly from Latin desperationem (nominative desperatio) "despair, hopelessness," noun of action from past participle stem of desperare "lose hope" (see despair (v.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper