Definition of despair in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈsper/


The complete loss or absence of hope: driven to despair, he throws himself under a train in despair, I hit the bottle
More example sentences
  • Finally, never leave the examination hall in despair, however hopeless things may seem.
  • As if in pain, as if in despair, everyone felt the sadness and everyone felt fear as well.
  • He says every morning he begins his work with hope, and every evening he ends in despair.
hopelessness, disheartenment, discouragement, desperation, distress, anguish, unhappiness;
despondency, depression, disconsolateness, melancholy, misery, wretchedness;
defeatism, pessimism


[no object]
Lose or be without hope: we should not despair he was beginning to despair of ever knowing
More example sentences
  • Others were simply despairing, sighing that it had lost its magic, that it had sold its soul to charter flights and overdevelopment.
  • He was far too young to die and I despaired that I was his only hope.
  • Some are hopeful, some are despairing and some are poignant.
lose hope, abandon hope, give up, lose heart, lose faith, be discouraged, be despondent, be demoralized, resign oneself;
be pessimistic
hopeless, in despair, dejected, depressed, despondent, disconsolate, gloomy, miserable, wretched, desolate, inconsolable;
disheartened, discouraged, demoralized, devastated, suicidal;
defeatist, pessimistic


be the despair of

Be the cause of a feeling of hopelessness in (someone else): my handwriting was the despair of my teachers
More example sentences
  • It becomes in a way the despair of philosophers, just like it was the despair of Proust's publishers.
  • After a few games he was the despair of every British dad on the touchline.
  • The voice is the despair of typists and stenographers: there seems nothing to cling to, no pauses, no paragraphing, no full stops.


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'.

Words that rhyme with despair

affair, affaire, air, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bear, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forbear, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hair, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, scare, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, spare, square, stair, stare, surface-to-air, swear, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·spair

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