1. loss of hope; hopelessness.
  2. someone or something that causes hopelessness: He is the despair of his mother.

verb (used without object)

  1. to lose, give up, or be without hope (often followed by of): to despair of humanity.

verb (used with object)

  1. Obsolete. to give up hope of.


  1. (intr often foll by of) to lose or give up hopeI despair of his coming
  2. (tr) obsolete to give up hope of; lose hope in


  1. total loss of hope
  2. a person or thing that causes hopelessness or for which there is no hope

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


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.

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