Definition of despair in US English:

despair

noun

  • The complete loss or absence of hope.

    ‘in despair, I hit the bottle’
    ‘driven to despair, he throws himself under a train’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He says every morning he begins his work with hope, and every evening he ends in despair.’
    • ‘All her efforts had been fruitless, but there was no despair on her face.’
    • ‘Finally, never leave the examination hall in despair, however hopeless things may seem.’
    • ‘She also saw Hazel standing there, worry and despair on her face.’
    • ‘A feeling of total despair washes over me.’
    • ‘On the screen the girl turned, despair etched in the taut lines of her scream.’
    • ‘Hurt mixed with confusion and a hint of despair filled those eyes.’
    • ‘Darren caught the two of us looking over and shook her head in mock despair.’
    • ‘In her wake, the chaos of despair is overwhelming.’
    • ‘Admittedly, these flights each followed bouts of suicidal despair.’
    • ‘Jocelyn fought back tears; she could not stand to see such despair filling his eyes.’
    • ‘The despair in her eyes made her seem older than she actually was.’
    • ‘A wave of despair washed over him, taking away all of his heated frustration.’
    • ‘The thought brought me to deep despair and the future looked bleak indeed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He lived for another 23 years but many of those were spent in despair and disappointment.’
    • ‘Their lack of determination is thought to be something like the despair felt by human sufferers of depression.’
    hopelessness, desperation, distress, anguish, pain, unhappiness
    View synonyms

verb

[no object]
  • Lose or be without hope.

    ‘we should not despair’
    ‘he was beginning to despair of ever knowing’
    • ‘So we can remain stuck there, despairing and hopeless, or we can live into a different reality.’
    • ‘Some are hopeful, some are despairing and some are poignant.’
    • ‘Always outgoing and generous, he sometimes despaired of the media.’
    • ‘She despaired at the thought of finding the several thousand dollars per year to pay for fees.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Others were simply despairing, sighing that it had lost its magic, that it had sold its soul to charter flights and overdevelopment.’
    • ‘Don't despair over one lost pup for there are many more.’
    • ‘We despair for the future of the world.’
    • ‘Farmers in Gambia are despairing as a shortage of rain is causing new seedlings to wilt and die off.’
    • ‘He was far too young to die and I despaired that I was his only hope.’
    • ‘Meanwhile I continue to despair for the future of this city.’
    • ‘The public is just going to give in to despair at their lack of options.’
    • ‘And now, here we are, a couple of days from the next election and like most people I know, I'm despairing.’
    • ‘Your impossible task leaves you feeling frustrated, angry and despairing.’
    • ‘That delicious uncertainty has been replaced by despairing, hopeless inevitability.’
    • ‘I despair for the future of international cultural cooperation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘No one seemed angry, or happy, or despairing; you just sensed that this was what we had to do.’
    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
    hopeless, desperate, anguished, distressed, broken-hearted, heartbroken, grief-stricken, inconsolable, sorrowing, suicidal, in despair
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • be the despair of

    • Be the cause of a feeling of hopelessness in (someone else)

      ‘my handwriting was the despair of my 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The voice is the despair of typists and stenographers: there seems nothing to cling to, no pauses, no paragraphing, no full stops.’
      • ‘Bottom of her class and constantly in trouble, she is the despair of her teachers and her wealthy, successful parents.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He is the despair of his family, particularly his father.’
      • ‘It becomes in a way the despair of philosophers, just like it was the despair of Proust's publishers.’
      • ‘Men's fashions from the late nineteenth century showed a kind of egalitarianism, though their conservatism was the despair of retailers.’
      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

/dəˈspɛr//dəˈsper/