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1. The condition of being desperate.
2. Recklessness arising from despair.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. desperate recklessness
2. the act of despairing or the state of being desperate
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌdɛs pəˈreɪ ʃən)

1. the state of being desperate or of having the recklessness of despair.
2. the act or fact of despairing; despair.
[1325–75; Middle English < Latin]
syn: See despair.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



any port in a storm See EXPEDIENCE.

at the end of one’s rope or tether At the end of one’s endurance or resources, out of options; exasperated, frustrated. The rope or tether is generally conceded to be that formerly attached to a grazing animal, restricting his movement and area of pasturage.

He was at the end of his rope when he had consumed all the provender within reach.

climb walls To be stir-crazy from confinement; to feel trapped or hemmed-in; to suffer from a lack of options. One who is “climbing the walls” suffers from a claustrophobic feeling of confinement—physical or mental—from which there is no apparent relief. The image is of a person trapped in a room with no doors or windows—the only way for releasing his pent-up energies being to climb the walls.

forlorn hope A desperate hope or undertaking; an expedition in which the survival of the participants is doubtful. This phrase is homonymously derived from the Dutch verloren hoop ‘lost troop,’ and formerly referred to the front line of soldiers in a military confrontation:

Called the forlorn hope, because they … fall on first, and make a passage for the rest. (Gaya’s Art of Wan, 1678)

grasp at straws To seek substance in the flimsy or meaning in the insignificant; to find ground for hope where none exists. In common use since the 18th century, the expression derives from the even older self-explanatory proverb: “A drowning man will catch at a straw.”

last-ditch Made in a final, desperate, all-out attempt to avoid impending calamity; fought or argued to the bitter end, using every available resource. This expression has the military overtones of continuing one’s efforts even though disaster seems imminent and all but the last line of defense (e.g., a ditch or foxhole) has been overcome. Its initial use is credited to William, Prince of Orange, who, in 1672, was asked if he expected to see his country (England) defeated by the French in the war that was raging at the time. He replied, “Nay, there is one certain means by which I can be sure never to see my country’s ruin. I will die in the last ditch.” He then rejected all offers of peace, intensified his efforts, and was victorious in 1678, not dying in the last ditch, but becoming King William III. A variation, derived from William’s quote, is die in the last ditch. In contemporary usage, last ditch is not limited to military affairs, but is used to describe any all-out, no-holds-barred effort.

Charlton himself surely was offside before McNab made his last ditch effort to recover the situation. (Times, August 27, 1973)

push the panic button To overreact to a situation, to react in a wildly impulsive, confused, or excessive manner, often because of pressures of work. Literally, a panic button is a control button or switch which can trigger the pilot’s ejection from an aircraft in an emergency; thus, figuratively, a last resort to be used only when all else has failed.

tear one’s hair out To be visibly distressed or agitated; to show signs of extreme anger or anguish. Originally referring to a gesture of mourning or intense grief, this expression, dating from the 16th century, is no longer used literally. It continues to be said, however, of one who is extremely frustrated, or going through an intensely painful emotional experience.

Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair And curst himself in his despair. (Robert Southey, Inchcape Rock, 1802)

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.desperation - a state in which all hope is lost or absentdesperation - a state in which all hope is lost or absent; "in the depths of despair"; "they were rescued from despair at the last minute"; "courage born of desperation"
condition, status - a state at a particular time; "a condition (or state) of disrepair"; "the current status of the arms negotiations"
2.desperation - desperate recklessness; "it was a policy of desperation"
foolhardiness, recklessness, rashness - the trait of giving little thought to danger
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


2. recklessness, madness, defiance, frenzy, impetuosity, rashness, foolhardiness, heedlessness It was an act of sheer desperation.
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" [Henry David Thoreau Walden]
"Beggars can't be choosers"
"A drowning man will clutch at a straw"
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
يَأْس، إسْتِماتَه
örvænting, úrræîaleysi


[ˌdespəˈreɪʃən] Ndesesperación f
she drove him to desperationle llevó al borde de la desesperaciónle hizo caer en la desesperación
in (sheer) desperation; out of (sheer) desperationa la desesperada, de pura desesperación
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˌdɛspəˈreɪʃən] ndésespoir m
a feeling of desperation → un sentiment de désespoir
in desperation → en désespoir de cause
out of sheer desperation → par pur désespoir
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nVerzweiflung f; an act of desperationeine Verzweiflungstat; in (sheer) desperationaus (reiner) Verzweiflung; to drive somebody to desperationjdn zur Verzweiflung bringen or treiben
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˌdɛspəˈreɪʃn] ndisperazione f
an act of desperation → un gesto disperato
in (sheer) desperation → per (pura) disperazione
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈdespərət) adjective
1. (sometimes used loosely) despairingly reckless or violent. She was desperate to get into university; a desperate criminal.
2. very bad or almost hopeless. We are in a desperate situation.
3. urgent and despairing. He made a desperate appeal for help.
ˈdesperately adverb
ˌdespeˈration noun
In desperation we asked the police for help.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


n desesperación f
English-Spanish/Spanish-English Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Pinocchio, in desperation, ran up to a doorway, threw himself upon the bell, and pulled it wildly, saying to himself: "Someone will surely answer that!"
I broke away from him, with a desperation which not even his resolution could resist.
I remember, rather indistinctly, that in my desperation and delirium I sprang out into the open and began firing my repeating rifle without seeing anybody to fire at.
Every boy he encountered added another ton to his depression; and when, in desperation, he flew for refuge at last to the bosom of Huckleberry Finn and was received with a Scriptural quotation, his heart broke and he crept home and to bed realizing that he alone of all the town was lost, forever and forever.
"I am quite of your opinion," replied Nicholas, flaming up, turning his plate round and moving his wineglasses about with as much decision and desperation as though he were at that moment facing some great danger.
Always if they slept they would wake, or if in my desperation I dared approach them when they were awake, would turn toward me the terrible eyes of the living, frightening me by the glances that I sought from the purpose that I held.
"And what if the things have been taken on to the railway station!" he roared in desperation.
"Thou wilt drive me to desperation, Sancho," said Don Quixote.
'I can't say anything else, sir; I was just robbed of it,' said John, in desperation, sullenly.
In the desperation of her feelings, she resolved on one effort more, and, turning to Elizabeth, said:
"Will nothing else do?" she cried at length, in desperation, her large eyes staring at him like those of a wild animal.
All its efforts to rid itself of the tiger seemed futile, until in desperation it threw itself upon the ground, rolling over and over.