Definition of desperado in US English:



  • A desperate or reckless person, especially a criminal.

    • ‘This quantity of dangerous but potentially precious materials offers a temptation for adventurers and desperados,’ said the report.’
    • ‘Where other desperados took the money and ran, the Kelly gang, remarkably enough, turned bank robberies into weekend social events - occasions for improvised partying and propaganda.’
    • ‘The stickup caused Main Street to rumble with a shootout that had residents and law enforcement officials alike scrambling and trading shots with the desperadoes.’
    • ‘The game can be played from a number of perspectives including that of the Indians, Mexicans, Americans, or a gang of desperados.’
    • ‘A couple of desperados like you two should be able to pull this off just fine,’ said Bill.’
    • ‘My guide tells me she has arranged more adventure activities, this time in the desert - and images of red canyons, towering rock formations and gangs of desperados comes to mind.’
    • ‘Soon, the desperados ' concerns of how and when to split the gold pale in comparison to the dire need to simply survive the strange inhabitants of this haunted mansion.’
    • ‘His band of desperados specialized in looting feudal landlords and Mughal treasury.’
    • ‘When the sheriff's posse catches up with Roy's gang of desperados, the lawmen announce a $5,000 price on Roy's head.’
    • ‘At the same time, he couldn't abide facile equations between criminal desperadoes and the legalized murder machinery of a state.’
    • ‘The opening sequence features a blade being sharpened on stone, quickly cross-cutting to a chaotic chase in which a gang of desperadoes attempt to capture a rogue chicken.’
    • ‘A storm brings down Gary's aircraft in the desert where he is captured by a gang of desperados - remnants of the Angolan war.’
    • ‘This entertainment business has been there for several years now and has succeeded in attracting an array of alcoholics, drunks, gamblers, aggressive individuals and desperados of every description.’
    • ‘These chronicles became the handbook for future travellers and ironically, for gold prospectors and desperados planning quick gains.’
    • ‘The desperados collide with the drillers and a hostage situation takes shape but guns and threats aren't the only danger facing our heroes.’
    • ‘After creating a disturbance in the Shopping Center, two desperados were retrieved from the jungle by arresting officers.’
    • ‘Local residents thought a band of desperadoes was being hunted down, but the reality was that they were conducting a purge of undesirables, drunks and criminal elements in preparation for the summer season.’
    • ‘The joint was hopping with all kinds of low-lifes and desperados.’
    • ‘Any attempt to develop a de-escalation strategy with these desperados is senseless.’
    • ‘That evening the camp of the fifteen college boys invited the desperados.’
    bandit, criminal, outlaw, renegade, marauder, raider, robber, lawbreaker, villain
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Early 17th century: pseudo-Spanish alteration of the obsolete noun desperate. Both desperate and desperado originally denoted a person in despair or in a desperate situation, hence someone made reckless by despair.