Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “desperate”

See all translations

desperate

adjective uk   /ˈdes.pər.ət/ us    /-pɚ-/

desperate adjective (SERIOUS)

C2 very serious or bad: desperate poverty a desperate shortage of food/supplies The situation is desperate - we have no food, very little water and no medical supplies. very great or extreme: The earthquake survivors are in desperate need of help. He has a desperate desire to succeed. informal I'm in a desperate hurry.
More examples

desperate adjective (WANTING)

B2 [usually after verb] needing or wanting something very much: They are desperate for help. UK humorous I'm desperate for a drink! [+ to infinitive] UK humorous He was desperate to tell someone his good news.
More examples

desperate adjective (RISKY)

B2 feeling that you have no hope and are ready to do anything to change the bad situation you are in: The doctors made one last desperate attempt/effort to save the boy's life. Desperate measures are needed to deal with the growing drug problem. They made a desperate plea for help. willing to be violent, and therefore dangerous: This man is desperate and should not be approached since he may have a gun.
More examples
(Definition of desperate from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of desperate?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “desperate” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

make believe

believing or imagining things that appear to be attractive or exciting, but are not real

Word of the Day

Lies, lies, lies!

by Kate Woodford,
February 25, 2015
​​​ According to sociologists (=people who study the relationships between people living in groups), we are good at lying. As a species, we have developed a remarkable ability to deceive each other (= persuade each other that something false is true). Being able to say things that are not true can help with

Read More 

showrooming noun

February 23, 2015
the activity of examining a product in a physical store and then making the purchase with an online retailer Amazon’s new smartphone is specifically designed to make showrooming fast and easy.

Read More