9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[dih-spair] /dɪˈspɛər/
loss of hope; hopelessness.
someone or something that causes hopelessness:
He is the despair of his mother.
verb (used without object)
to lose, give up, or be without hope (often followed by of):
to despair of humanity.
verb (used with object)
Obsolete. to give up hope of.
Origin of despair
1275-1325; Middle English despeir (noun), despeiren (v.) < Anglo-French despeir, Old French despoir (noun), despeir-, tonic stem of desperer (v.) < Latin dēspērāre to be without hope, equivalent to dē- de- + spērāre to hope, derivative of spēs hope
Related forms
despairer, noun
self-despair, noun
undespaired, adjective
1. gloom, disheartenment. Despair, desperation, despondency, discouragement, hopelessness refer to a state of mind caused by circumstances that seem too much to cope with. Despair suggests total loss of hope, which may be passive or may drive one to furious efforts, even if at random: in the depths of despair; courage born of despair. Desperation is usually an active state, the abandonment of hope impelling to a furious struggle against adverse circumstances, with utter disregard of consequences: an act of desperation when everything else had failed. Despondency is a state of deep gloom and disheartenment: a spell of despondency. Discouragement is a loss of courage, hope, and ambition because of obstacles, frustrations, etc.: His optimism yielded to discouragement. Hopelessness is a loss of hope so complete as to result in a more or less permanent state of passive despair: a state of hopelessness and apathy.
1. hope. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for despaired
  • They almost despaired, not only of being relieved, but of living.
  • They despaired of a country in which many residents still don't have access to basic services.
  • Paleontologists say they have discovered something they had despaired of ever finding: the heart of a dinosaur.
  • If he despaired--as occasionally he must have--there were never any outward signs of it.
  • At times she despaired of her own worth and wished she could give her place to others.
  • While not beaten tactically, he despaired of remaining before an enemy that he mistakenly believed had been reinforced.
  • We've despaired of national leadership in some ways and have gone ahead signing agreements.
  • Some despaired of ever again being able to hold their heads high.
  • After looking over the local terrain, however, they openly despaired that such a line was technically feasible.
  • His life was despaired of last evening but this morning hopes arc entertained of his recovery.
British Dictionary definitions for despaired


(intransitive) often foll by of. to lose or give up hope: I despair of his coming
(transitive) (obsolete) to give up hope of; lose hope in
total loss of hope
a person or thing that causes hopelessness or for which there is no hope
Word Origin
C14: from Old French despoir hopelessness, from desperer to despair, from Latin dēspērāre, from de- + spērāre to hope
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for despaired



early 14c., from stem of Old French desperer "be dismayed, lose hope, despair," from Latin desperare "to despair, to lose all hope," from de- "without" + sperare "to hope," from spes "hope" (see speed). Related: Despaired; despairing; despairingly.


c.1300, from Anglo-French despeir, Old French despoir, from desperer (see despair (v.)). Replaced native wanhope.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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