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[hohp-lis] /ˈhoʊp lɪs/
providing no hope; beyond optimism or hope; desperate:
a hopeless case of cancer.
without hope; despairing:
hopeless grief.
impossible to accomplish, solve, resolve, etc.:
Balancing my budget is hopeless.
not able to learn or act, perform, or work as desired; inadequate for the purpose:
As a bridge player, you're hopeless.
Origin of hopeless
1560-70; hope + -less
Related forms
hopelessly, adverb
hopelessness, noun
1. irremediable, remediless, incurable. 2. forlorn, disconsolate, dejected. Hopeless, despairing, despondent, desperate all describe an absence of hope. Hopeless is used of a feeling of futility and passive abandonment of oneself to fate: Hopeless and grim, he still clung to the cliff. Despairing refers to the loss of hope in regard to a particular situation, whether important or trivial; it suggests an intellectual judgment concerning probabilities: despairing of victory; despairing of finding his gloves. Despondent always suggests melancholy and depression; it refers to an emotional state rather than to an intellectual judgment: Despondent over ill health, he killed himself. She became despondent and suspicious. Desperate conveys a suggestion of recklessness resulting from loss of hope: As the time grew shorter, he became desperate. It may also refer to something arising from extreme need or danger: a desperate remedy; a desperate situation. Despairing and despondent may apply only to feelings. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hopeless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "No, it will not come," I said to myself at last in hopeless despair.

    Frenzied Finance Thomas W. Lawson
  • It would also make marriage and children a great and hopeless burden.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • “That boy is hopeless,” groaned Jack, as they retraced their steps to look for him.

    Finding the Lost Treasure Helen M. Persons
  • It is not to be inferred that reform and correction are hopeless.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • This is music which it is hopeless to attempt to justify or promote.

British Dictionary definitions for hopeless


having or offering no hope
impossible to analyse or solve
unable to learn, function, etc
(informal) without skill or ability
Derived Forms
hopelessly, adverb
hopelessness, noun
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 hopeless

1560s, from hope (n.) + -less. Related: Hopelessly; hopelessness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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