providing no hope; beyond optimism or hope; desperate: a hopeless case of cancer.
without hope; despairing: hopeless grief.
impossible to accomplish, solve, resolve, etc.: Balancing my budget is hopeless.
not able to learn or act, perform, or work as desired; inadequate for the purpose: As a bridge player, you're hopeless.

Origin of hopeless

First recorded in 1560–70; hope + -less
Related formshope·less·ly, adverbhope·less·ness, noun

Synonyms for hopeless

Synonym study

2. Hopeless, despairing, despondent, desperate all describe an absence of hope. Hopeless is used of a feeling of futility and passive abandonment of oneself to fate: Hopeless and grim, he still clung to the cliff. Despairing refers to the loss of hope in regard to a particular situation, whether important or trivial; it suggests an intellectual judgment concerning probabilities: despairing of victory; despairing of finding his gloves. Despondent always suggests melancholy and depression; it refers to an emotional state rather than to an intellectual judgment: Despondent over ill health, he killed himself. She became despondent and suspicious. Desperate conveys a suggestion of recklessness resulting from loss of hope: As the time grew shorter, he became desperate. It may also refer to something arising from extreme need or danger: a desperate remedy; a desperate situation. See also despair.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hopelessness

Contemporary Examples of hopelessness

Historical Examples of hopelessness

  • He realized its hopelessness when K. lapsed into whimsical humor.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • It was as if he must make up for long arrears of hopelessness.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • An expression of pain, and hopelessness, and sorrow swept across his features.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • Hopelessness had dulled every sense: not even a start at the sound of his voice!

    Miracles of Our Lord

    George MacDonald

  • And through it all a great despair and hopelessness sounded in his voice.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

British Dictionary definitions for hopelessness



having or offering no hope
impossible to analyse or solve
unable to learn, function, etc
informal without skill or ability
Derived Formshopelessly, adverbhopelessness, noun
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 hopelessness



1560s, from hope (n.) + -less. Related: Hopelessly; hopelessness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper