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’
    • ‘A feeling of total despair washes over me.’
    • ‘Finally, never leave the examination hall in despair, however hopeless things may seem.’
    • ‘On the screen the girl turned, despair etched in the taut lines of her scream.’
    • ‘They all had deep despair etched on their faces.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Admittedly, these flights each followed bouts of suicidal despair.’
    • ‘The thought brought me to deep despair and the future looked bleak indeed.’
    • ‘A wave of despair washed over him, taking away all of his heated frustration.’
    • ‘She also saw Hazel standing there, worry and despair on her face.’
    • ‘In her wake, the chaos of despair is overwhelming.’
    • ‘Darren caught the two of us looking over and shook her head in mock despair.’
    • ‘Hurt mixed with confusion and a hint of despair filled those eyes.’
    • ‘He says every morning he begins his work with hope, and every evening he ends in despair.’
    • ‘The disruption caused to the hall, added to the cost of replacing the windows has left local people in 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.’
    • ‘All her efforts had been fruitless, but there was no despair on her face.’
    • ‘The despair in her eyes made her seem older than she actually was.’
    • ‘Jocelyn fought back tears; she could not stand to see such despair filling his eyes.’
    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’
    • ‘Don't despair over one lost pup for there are many more.’
    • ‘He was far too young to die and I despaired that I was his only hope.’
    • ‘Farmers in Gambia are despairing as a shortage of rain is causing new seedlings to wilt and die off.’
    • ‘Many doctors are despairing that this could be too long for some patients.’
    • ‘That delicious uncertainty has been replaced by despairing, hopeless inevitability.’
    • ‘It means he has despaired of persuading anybody.’
    • ‘And now, here we are, a couple of days from the next election and like most people I know, I'm despairing.’
    • ‘I despair for the future of international cultural cooperation.’
    • ‘Where once she was smug and funny about her career and marriage, now she is feisty and despairing.’
    • ‘Always outgoing and generous, he sometimes despaired of the media.’
    • ‘So we can remain stuck there, despairing and hopeless, or we can live into a different reality.’
    • ‘The public is just going to give in to despair at their lack of options.’
    • ‘Very often we were chased by an irate farmer, but we never despaired and always tried again, somewhere else.’
    • ‘No one seemed angry, or happy, or despairing; you just sensed that this was what we had to do.’
    • ‘Your impossible task leaves you feeling frustrated, angry and despairing.’
    • ‘Meanwhile I continue to despair for the future of this city.’
    • ‘She despaired at the thought of finding the several thousand dollars per year to pay for fees.’
    • ‘Others were simply despairing, sighing that it had lost its magic, that it had sold its soul to charter flights and overdevelopment.’
    • ‘Some are hopeful, some are despairing and some are poignant.’
    • ‘We despair for the future of the world.’
    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’
      • ‘It becomes in a way the despair of philosophers, just like it was the despair of Proust's publishers.’
      • ‘The voice is the despair of typists and stenographers: there seems nothing to cling to, no pauses, no paragraphing, no full stops.’
      • ‘After a few games he was the despair of every British dad on the touchline.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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
      View synonyms

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

/dəˈsper//dəˈspɛr/