Meaning of “despair” in the English Dictionary

"despair" in British English

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despairnoun [ U ]

uk /dɪˈspeər/ us /dɪˈsper/

B2 the feeling that there is no hope and that you can do nothing to improve a difficult or worrying situation:

a mood/sense of despair
They're in (the depths of) despair over/about the money they've lost.
To her teacher's despair, Nicole never does the work that she's told to do.
Their fourth year without rain drove many farmers to despair.
be the despair of sb

to cause someone such difficulties that they do not know how to deal with you:

He's the despair of his parents because he shows no interest in getting a job.

More examples

  • A feeling of despair descended on us as we realized that we were completely lost.
  • He was plunged into despair when his wife left him.
  • In despair, the theatre director searched everywhere for a new lead actor.
  • Over a bottle of wine, we shared our despair over the state of our marriages.
  • He sank into deep despair when he lost his job.

despairverb [ I ]

uk /dɪˈspeər/ us /dɪˈsper/
adjective uk /dɪˈspeə.rɪŋ/ us /dɪˈsper.ɪŋ/

a despairing glance/cry
adverb uk /dɪˈspeə.rɪŋ.li/ us /dɪˈsper.ɪŋ.li/

He rubbed his hand despairingly over his face.

(Definition of “despair” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"despair" in American English

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despairnoun [ U ]

us /dɪˈspeər/

a feeling of being without hope or of not being able to improve a situation:

A few sad moments doesn’t imply feelings of despair.
She flung up her arms in despair and wailed.

despairverb [ I ]

us /dɪˈsper, -ˈspær/

to lose hope or be without hope:

Don’t despair – things will improve.
He began to despair of ever finding a job.

(Definition of “despair” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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