Definition of desperado in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌdespəˈrädō/

noun (plural desperadoes or desperados)

A desperate or reckless person, especially a criminal.
Example sentences
  • At the same time, he couldn't abide facile equations between criminal desperadoes and the legalized murder machinery of a state.
  • The joint was hopping with all kinds of low-lifes and desperados.
  • 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.
bandit, criminal, outlaw, lawbreaker, villain, renegade;
robber, cutthroat, gangster, pirate, bandito



Pronunciation: /-ˌizəm/
Example sentences
  • My idea, when I began this chapter, was to say something about desperadoism in the ‘flush times’ of Nevada.
  • Many good people moved to Texas at this time, but the bad ones, combining forces with homegrown scoundrels, caused an outbreak of desperadoism that was hard to put down.
  • The government should put in place a strong security force, special forces as well as civilian clothed officers to check mate this malicious act of desperadoism.


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.

  • It looks like a Spanish word, but desperado is almost certainly one hundred per cent English—a pseudo-Spanish alteration of desperate (Late Middle English), probably created to sound more impressive and emphatic. Between the early 17th and early 18th centuries a desperate was a desperate or reckless person, just like a desperado. An earlier meaning was ‘a person in despair or in a desperate situation’, which developed into ‘a person made reckless by despair’. In both senses desperate is earlier than desperado, but the more exotic form ousted the original. The ultimate origin of desperate is Latin desperare ‘to deprive of hope’, the source of despair (Middle English).

Words that rhyme with desperado

aficionado, amontillado, avocado, Bardo, Barnardo, bastinado, bravado, Colorado, Dorado, eldorado, incommunicado, Leonardo, Mikado, muscovado, Prado, renegado, Ricardo, stifado

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: des·per·a·do

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