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[dahyuh r] /daɪər/
adjective, direr, direst.
causing or involving great fear or suffering; dreadful; terrible:
a dire calamity.
indicating trouble, disaster, misfortune, or the like:
dire predictions about the stock market.
urgent; desperate:
in dire need of food.
Origin of dire
1560-70; < Latin dīrus fearful, unlucky
Related forms
direly, adverb
direness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dire
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • These, if unsettled by dire arbitrament of the sword, must be left to Time and his best coadjutor, "sober second-thought."

  • They were a kissing family, and after that dire event the habit had taken a fresh spring.

    The Marriages Henry James
  • Once more Agamemnon's dire lot is told with some new incidents added.

    Homer's Odyssey Denton J. Snider
  • Washington himself says the act was prompted by a dire necessity.

    The Campaign of Trenton 1776-77 Samuel Adams Drake
  • She said she had dire need of him, and she told him that the king had sworn that no harm should come to him.

    The Soul of a People H. Fielding
British Dictionary definitions for dire


adjective (usually prenominal)
Also direful. disastrous; fearful
desperate; urgent: a dire need
foreboding disaster; ominous: a dire warning
Derived Forms
direly, adverb
direness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin dīrus ominous, fearful; related to Greek deos fear
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 dire

1560s, from Latin dirus "fearful, awful, boding ill," of unknown origin; perhaps from Oscan and Umbrian and perhaps cognate with Greek deinos, from PIE root *dwei-.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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