desperate Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
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Meaning of “desperate” in the English Dictionary

"desperate" in British English

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desperateadjective

uk   /ˈdes.pər.ət/ us   /ˈdes.pɚ.ət/
  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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 dangerous situation: 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 medical supplies in the area. The earthquake survivors 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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