Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “desperate”

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.Serious and severeSevere 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.Very and extremeComplete and wholeIntensifying expressions

desperate adjective (WANTING)

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

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.Dangers and threats willing to be violent, and therefore dangerous: This man is desperate and should not be approached as he may have a gun.Violent or aggressiveUnkind, cruel and unfeelingTreating people or animals badly
(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

aptitude

a natural ability or skill

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More