From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishdesperatedes‧per‧ate /ˈdespərət/ ●●○ S3 W3 adjective 1 SERIOUS SITUATIONwilling to do anything to change a very bad situation, and not caring about danger I had no money left and was desperate. Time was running out and we were getting desperate. the missing teenager’s desperate parentsdesperate with She was desperate with fear.2 WANTNEEDneeding or wanting something very muchdesperate for The team is desperate for a win. I was desperate for a cigarette.desperate to do something He was desperate to get a job.3 SERIOUS SITUATIONa desperate situation is very bad or serious a desperate shortage of doctors We’re in desperate need of help.► see thesaurus at serious4 SERIOUS SITUATIONa desperate action is something that you only do because you are in a very bad situationdesperate attempt/bid/effort a desperate attempt to escape We resorted to desperate measures.desperate battle/struggle/fight a desperate struggle to rescue the menCOLLOCATIONS – Meaning 4: a desperate action is something that you only do because you are in a very bad situationnounsa desperate attemptBrian’s parents agreed to the treatment in a desperate attempt to save his life.a desperate bid (=attempt)He was standing in the middle of the road in a desperate bid to get help.a desperate effortA desperate effort was made to reach an agreement.a desperate struggle/battle/fightThe climbers faced a desperate struggle to reach safety.desperate measures (=extreme things you do to stop a problem or bad situation)They had to take desperate measures to stop the spread of the disease.a desperate searchThe female bear has left her young in a desperate search for food.
Examples from the Corpusdesperate• Another two weeks without emergency aid and I'd think things could become quite desperate.• We have members of our association who are desperate and worried sick as to how they are going to survive.• I was inspired by her optimism in the face of such desperate conditions.• Had he not been she might have telephoned him instead of Nick, when she had been desperate for company.• Pushing himself up, he staggered on, feeling angry and desperate inside.• The hospital is full of people in desperate need of medical attention.• TV stations broadcast an appeal from the teenager's desperate parents.• There was a desperate shortage of doctors.• Refugees on the border are living in appalling conditions with desperate shortages of food, medicine and water.• In desperate situations of life or death people come up with unheard-of wisdom.• The situation was desperate. The enemy were now only a mile away.• The situation is desperate -- there are just not enough beds in the hospital.• Musicians were so desperate to hear Michelangeli that they borrowed violin cases and sneaked in through the stage door.• Punters get desperate when the firm they are dealing with is about to go bust.getting desperate• Harvard's dealing director started getting desperate.• Paul says he was getting desperate.• We'd had a couple just stay on the lip and we were getting desperate.• They're getting desperate about the cabaret.• High Street shops are getting desperate after two years of poor sales.• I think they're getting desperate and Berlin seems the likeliest cause.• Miguel was getting desperate thoughts about it, convinced he had been hasty.• Television manufacturers are getting desperate to attract customers.desperate for• Desperate for ideas, Hollywood often recycles movie plots.desperate shortage• While toy sales here have hit a record high they face a desperate shortage of clean water.• Again the desperate shortage of materials and the home-made nature of the goods was evident.• Surely London employers were suffering from a desperate shortage of school-leavers?desperate attempt/bid/effort• The independence wars are not freak events but desperate efforts at cultural survival.• In a last desperate attempt to free himself of investigation, Nixon dismissed the special prosecutor Cox in October 1973.• Or as a desperate bid to get Aviemore to come up with the money?• Riven hung on to his mount's bridle grimly whilst it bucked and reared in a desperate effort to get away.• She made a desperate attempt to move.• He made two desperate attempts to recoup by staging the kind of garish spectacle that had once lured customers to the Falls.• Fights erupted outside supermarkets as shoppers battled for parking spaces in desperate efforts to stock up with canned goods.• Protestors had climbed lime trees in a desperate bid to stop them being destroyed.Origin desperate (1300-1400) Latin desperatus, past participle of desperare; → DESPAIR2