[dahyuh r]

adjective, dir·er, dir·est.

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 formsdire·ly, adverbdire·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for direly

Contemporary Examples of direly

  • The beleagured nation has been direly impacted by troop and weapon flows into its north from neighbor Libya.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Mali's in Trouble

    Justin Green

    January 11, 2013

Historical Examples of direly

  • 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

  • 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

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

    The Delight Makers

    Adolf Bandelier

  • The want of cartridges was what the troops felt most direly.

British Dictionary definitions for direly


adjective (usually prenominal)

Also: direful disastrous; fearful
desperate; urgenta dire need
foreboding disaster; ominousa dire warning
Derived Formsdirely, adverbdireness, noun

Word Origin for dire

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 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