[des-per-it, -prit]
reckless or dangerous because of despair or urgency: a desperate killer.
having an urgent need, desire, etc.: desperate for attention.
leaving little or no hope; very serious or dangerous: a desperate illness.
extremely bad; intolerable or shocking: clothes in desperate taste.
extreme or excessive.
making a final, ultimate effort; giving all: a desperate attempt to save a life.
actuated by a feeling of hopelessness.
having no hope; giving in to despair.
Obsolete. a desperado.

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin dēspērātus, past participle of dēspērāre to despair; see -ate1

desperately, adverb
desperateness, noun
quasi-desperate, adjective
quasi-desperately, adverb

desperate, disparate.

1. rash, frantic. 3. grave. See hopeless. 8. forlorn, desolate.

1. careful. 3, 8. hopeful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
desperate (ˈdɛspərɪt, -prɪt)
adj (often postpositive and foll by for)
1.  careless of danger, as from despair; utterly reckless
2.  (of an act) reckless; risky
3.  used or undertaken in desperation or as a last resort: desperate measures
4.  critical; very grave: in desperate need
5.  in distress and having a great need or desire
6.  moved by or showing despair or hopelessness; despairing
[C15: from Latin dēspērāre to have no hope; see despair]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 15c., "despairing, hopeless," from L. desperatus "given up, despaired of," pp. of desperare (see despair). Sense of "driven to recklessness" is from late 15c.; weakened sense of "having a great desire for" is from 1950s. Related: Desperately.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Pythons are invading the Everglades, and scientists are desperate to stop them
  from devastating the native animal population.
It's a beautiful image of a desperate and abandoned man.
It was the beginning of a desperate, round-the-clock attempt to save her life.
To protect them he resorts to desperate measures, sometimes betraying his own
  sense of right and wrong.
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