Definition of despair in English:

despair

noun

  • [mass noun] The complete loss or absence of hope:

    ‘a voice full of self-hatred and despair’
    ‘in despair, I hit the bottle’
    • ‘Admittedly, these flights each followed bouts of suicidal despair.’
    • ‘As if in pain, as if in despair, everyone felt the sadness and everyone felt fear as well.’
    • ‘Her husband leaned on the doorframe and shook his head in mock despair.’
    • ‘All her efforts had been fruitless, but there was no despair on her face.’
    • ‘Jocelyn fought back tears; she could not stand to see such despair filling his eyes.’
    • ‘She also saw Hazel standing there, worry and despair on her face.’
    • ‘Darren caught the two of us looking over and shook her head in mock despair.’
    • ‘The thought brought me to deep despair and the future looked bleak indeed.’
    • ‘The despair in her eyes made her seem older than she actually was.’
    • ‘On the screen the girl turned, despair etched in the taut lines of her scream.’
    • ‘A wave of despair washed over him, taking away all of his heated frustration.’
    • ‘Finally, never leave the examination hall in despair, however hopeless things may seem.’
    • ‘He says every morning he begins his work with hope, and every evening he ends in despair.’
    • ‘Their lack of determination is thought to be something like the despair felt by human sufferers of depression.’
    • ‘A feeling of total despair washes over me.’
    • ‘Hurt mixed with confusion and a hint of despair filled those eyes.’
    • ‘He lived for another 23 years but many of those were spent in despair and disappointment.’
    • ‘In her wake, the chaos of despair is overwhelming.’
    • ‘The disruption caused to the hall, added to the cost of replacing the windows has left local people in despair.’
    • ‘They all had deep despair etched on their faces.’
    hopelessness, desperation, distress, anguish, pain, unhappiness
    dejection, depression, despondency, disconsolateness, gloom, melancholy, melancholia, misery, wretchedness
    disheartenment, discouragement, resignedness, forlornness, defeatism, pessimism
    View synonyms

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • Lose or be without hope:

    ‘we should not despair’
    ‘she despaired of finding a good restaurant nearby’
    • ‘She despaired at the thought of finding the several thousand dollars per year to pay for fees.’
    • ‘Meanwhile I continue to despair for the future of this city.’
    • ‘Others were simply despairing, sighing that it had lost its magic, that it had sold its soul to charter flights and overdevelopment.’
    • ‘Farmers in Gambia are despairing as a shortage of rain is causing new seedlings to wilt and die off.’
    • ‘Don't despair over one lost pup for there are many more.’
    • ‘No one seemed angry, or happy, or despairing; you just sensed that this was what we had to do.’
    • ‘Always outgoing and generous, he sometimes despaired of the media.’
    • ‘And now, here we are, a couple of days from the next election and like most people I know, I'm despairing.’
    • ‘So we can remain stuck there, despairing and hopeless, or we can live into a different reality.’
    • ‘Very often we were chased by an irate farmer, but we never despaired and always tried again, somewhere else.’
    • ‘It means he has despaired of persuading anybody.’
    • ‘Some are hopeful, some are despairing and some are poignant.’
    • ‘That delicious uncertainty has been replaced by despairing, hopeless inevitability.’
    • ‘We despair for the future of the world.’
    • ‘I despair for the future of international cultural cooperation.’
    • ‘He was far too young to die and I despaired that I was his only hope.’
    • ‘Your impossible task leaves you feeling frustrated, angry and despairing.’
    • ‘Where once she was smug and funny about her career and marriage, now she is feisty and despairing.’
    • ‘Many doctors are despairing that this could be too long for some patients.’
    • ‘The public is just going to give in to despair at their lack of options.’
    hopeless, desperate, anguished, distressed, broken-hearted, heartbroken, grief-stricken, inconsolable, sorrowing, suicidal, in despair
    dejected, depressed, despondent, disconsolate, gloomy, melancholy, miserable, wretched, desolate, forlorn
    disheartened, discouraged, demoralized, devastated, downcast, resigned, defeatist, pessimistic
    lose hope, give up hope, abandon hope, give up, lose heart, be discouraged, be despondent, be demoralized, resign oneself, throw in the sponge, throw in the towel, quit, surrender
    be pessimistic, look on the black side
    despond
    dolorous
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • be the despair of

    • Cause to lose hope:

      ‘such students can be the despair of conscientious teachers’
      • ‘After a few games he was the despair of every British dad on the touchline.’
      • ‘There is a stubborn devotion in most congregations to their local interests and mission, which has been the despair of all enthusiasts for world issues.’
      • ‘They proved adept at using them and maintaining them in conditions which would have been the despair of others, but they were not curious about them beyond the knowledge required to make them work.’
      • ‘Men's fashions from the late nineteenth century showed a kind of egalitarianism, though their conservatism was the despair of retailers.’
      • ‘The voice is the despair of typists and stenographers: there seems nothing to cling to, no pauses, no paragraphing, no full stops.’
      • ‘He is the despair of his family, particularly his father.’
      • ‘Bottom of her class and constantly in trouble, she is the despair of her teachers and her wealthy, successful parents.’
      • ‘It becomes in a way the despair of philosophers, just like it was the despair of Proust's publishers.’
      • ‘A sprawl of potatoes at the center of the picture is the despair of a family of seven and a worried dog as a pluming rain cloud approaches from distant hills.’
      • ‘This passive resistance to change was the despair of the improving landowner, who tended to relapse into apathy after a few years of vain effort.’
      be the bane of, be the scourge of, be a burden on, be a trial to, be a thorn in the flesh of, be a thorn in the side of, be a bother to, be the ruin of, be the death of
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Origin

Middle English: the noun via Anglo-Norman French from Old French desespeir; the verb from Old French desperer, from Latin desperare, from de- down from + sperare to hope.

Pronunciation:

despair

/dɪˈspɛː/