desperate Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “desperate” in the English Dictionary

"desperate" in British English

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desperateadjective

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 ​medicalsupplies. very ​great or ​extreme: The ​earthquakesurvivors are in desperate need of ​help. He has a desperate ​desire to ​succeed.informal I'm in a desperate ​hurry.

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  • desperate adjective (WANTING)

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

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  • desperate adjective (RISKY)

B2 feeling that you have no ​hope and are ​ready to do anything to ​change the ​badsituation 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 ​growingdrugproblem. They made a desperate plea for ​help. willing to be ​violent, and ​thereforedangerous: This man is desperate and should not be ​approached since he may have a ​gun.

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

"desperate" in American English

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desperateadjective

 us   /ˈdes·pər·ət/
  • desperate adjective (RISKY)

showing a ​willingness to take any ​risk in ​order to ​change a ​bad or ​dangeroussituation: The ​ads are a desperate ​attempt to ​win last-minute ​votes. A desperate ​person is ​willing to take any ​measures and may be ​dangerous: desperate ​criminals
  • desperate adjective (SERIOUS)

very ​serious or ​dangerous: There’s a desperate ​shortage of ​medicalsupplies in the ​area. The ​earthquakesurvivors are in desperate need of ​help.
  • desperate adjective (IN NEED)

having a very ​great need: She was desperate for ​news of her ​family. I’m desperate for some ​coffee.
(Definition of desperate from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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