What does despair mean?

Definitions for despair

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word despair.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. despair, desperationnoun

    a state in which all hope is lost or absent

    "in the depths of despair"; "they were rescued from despair at the last minute"; "courage born of desperation"

  2. despairverb

    the feeling that everything is wrong and nothing will turn out well

    "they moaned in despair and dismay"; "one harsh word would send her into the depths of despair"

  3. despairverb

    abandon hope; give up hope; lose heart

    "Don't despair--help is on the way!"


  1. despairnoun

    Loss of hope; utter hopelessness; complete despondency.

    He turned around in despair, aware that he was not going to survive

  2. despairnoun

    That which is despaired of.

  3. despairverb

    To give up as beyond hope or expectation; to despair of.

  4. despairverb

    To cause to despair.

  5. despairverb

    To be hopeless; to have no hope; to give up all hope or expectation.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. DESPAIRnoun

    Etymology: desespoir, French.

    You had either never attempted this change, set on with hope, or never discovered it, stopt with despair. Philip Sidney, b. ii.

    We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair. 2 Cor. iv. 8.

    Weary’d, forsaken, and pursu’d at last,
    All safety in despair of safety plac’d,
    Courage he thence resumes, resolv’d to bear
    All their assaults, since ’tis in vain to fear. John Denham.

    Equal their flame, unequal was their care;
    One lov’d with hope, one languish’d with despair. Dryden.

    Despair is the thought of the unattainableness of any good, which works differently in mens minds, sometimes producing uneasiness or pain, sometimes rest and indolency. John Locke.

    Strangely visited people,
    All swol’n and ulc’rous, pitiful to the eye;
    The mere despair of surgery, he cures;
    Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
    Put on with holy prayers. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    Are not all or most evangelical virtues and graces in danger of extremes? As there is, God knows, too often a defect on the one side, so there may be an excess on the other: may not hope in God, or godly sorrow, be perverted into presumption or despair? Thomas Sprat, Sermons.

  2. To Despairverb

    To be without hope; to despond.

    Etymology: despero, Latin.

    Though thou drewest a sword at thy friend, yet despair not; for there may be a turning. Ecclus. xxii. 21.

    We commend the wit of the Chinese, who despair of making of gold, but are mad upon making of silver. Francis Bacon.

    Never despair of God’s blessings here, or of his reward hereafter; but go on as you have begun. William Wake, Preparation.


  1. despair

    Despair is a deep state of extreme sadness, hopelessness, and a feeling of being without any possibility of improvement or a better outcome. It is characterized by a loss of faith or confidence in oneself, others, or the future, often accompanied by feelings of helplessness, defeat, and a lack of motivation to take action. Despair is typically experienced when one believes that their circumstances or problems are insurmountable or unchangeable.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Despairverb

    to be hopeless; to have no hope; to give up all hope or expectation; -- often with of

  2. Despairverb

    to give up as beyond hope or expectation; to despair of

  3. Despairverb

    to cause to despair

  4. Despairnoun

    loss of hope; utter hopelessness; complete despondency

  5. Despairnoun

    that which is despaired of


  1. Despair

    Despair is one of the Endless, fictional characters from Neil Gaiman's comic book series, The Sandman. Despair is the twin sister of Desire. She is squat, flabby and pale-skinned, with black hair, gray eyes, and pointed teeth. Her voice is little more than a whisper, and she has no odor, but her shadow smells musky and pungent, like the skin of a snake. She does not wear clothes. On a finger of her left hand she wears a ring with a hook attached to it, with which she habitually carves her flesh. The hook is her sigil in the galleries of the other characters. Her realm is a gray space in which floats a white fog and countless mirrors, which are connected to mirrors in the human world, through which she looks on those who are in despair. The only other inhabitants of her realm are her pet rats. Despair sometimes acts together with Desire when she/he is plotting against the elder Endless, most notably when Despair takes on a challenge with Morpheus over the life of Joshua Abraham Norton, seemingly at Desire's bidding. She is less distanced from the family than Desire, though, and seems to have some feeling at least for Delirium, and also seems to miss Destruction so much that she is able to manipulate Dream into feeling guilty over Destruction's abadoning of his duty. She does not say much, and consequently appears brusque, but her speech at Morpheus' wake in The Wake reveals her sympathy and feeling for him.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Despair

    de-spār′, v.i. to be without hope: to despond.—n. want of hope: utter hopelessness: that which causes despair.—adj. Despair′ful (Spens.).—p.adj. Despair′ing, apt to despair: full of despair.—adv. Despair′ingly. [O. Fr. desperer—L. desperāre, -ātumde, neg., and sperāre, to hope.]

Editors Contribution

  1. Despair

    Despair is the feeling of not having any hope left.

    I Despair him.

    Submitted by anonymous on May 6, 2019  

Suggested Resources

  1. despair

    Song lyrics by despair -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by despair on the Lyrics.com website.

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British National Corpus

  1. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'despair' in Nouns Frequency: #2519

Anagrams for despair »

  1. aspired

  2. diapers

  3. praised

  4. pardesi

How to pronounce despair?

How to say despair in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of despair in Chaldean Numerology is: 6

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of despair in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of despair in a Sentence

  1. Unknown:

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace where there is hatred, let me sow love where there is injury, pardon where there is doubt, faith where there is despair, hope where there is darkness, light and where there is sadness, joy.

  2. John Kerry:

    I wouldn't view this as a moment of despair, moment of setback, I would view this as a continuing process.

  3. Shah Asad Rizvi:

    Awaken from the slumber of despair, as the heart repairs and memories dance to the song called time

  4. John Bunyan:

    There was a castle called Doubting Castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair.

  5. Alexis karpouzos:

    Mountains fall and seas divide and impossible things may seem but where there’s despair there is and faith and where there’s sadness the consolation is near. Every breath is a chance to reborn, but to be reborn you have to die before dying.

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Translations for despair

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"despair." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 24 Jul 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/despair>.

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