The Meaning of Dire: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of dire? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word dire, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word dire mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word dire is an adjective that means serious and terrible. Many things can be dire and cause great fear, extreme danger, suffering, terror, and disaster. There are many things that can be described as dire, including a dire need, dire straits, a dire warning, dire predictions, dire calamity, dire emergency, dire economic forecasts, dire news, dire circumstances, a dire threat, a dire need of food, dire predictions for the stock market, dire misfortune, a dire dreaded disease like polio, a dire dreadful storm, and more. The suffixes er and est can be added to the end of the word dire to form the superlatives direr and direst. The pronunciation of dire is daɪr.

Many different languages also contain words that mean dire. You may notice that many of these words look similar to the word dire. These are called cognates, which are words that look, sound, and mean similar things across different languages. These are often formed when two words or languages share a common origin or ancestral language, such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations of dire is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Norwegian: skrekkelig‎, ondskapsfull‎
  •  Portuguese: horrível‎, terrível‎
  •  Italian: terribile‎, tremendo‎ (masc.), tragico‎ (masc.), catastrofico‎ (masc.)
  •  German: schrecklich‎, entsetzlich‎, furchtbar‎
  •  Russian: жу́ткий‎, ужа́сный‎, стра́шный‎
  •  Spanish: Maligno‎ (masc.)
  •  Lithuanian: baisus‎
  •  Dutch: gevaarlijk‎, vreselijk‎, sinister‎, verschrikkelijk‎
  •  French: extrême‎, terrible‎
  •  Latvian: šausmīgs‎
  •  Danish: ondskabsfuld‎, skrækkelig‎
  •  Polish: poważny‎, straszny‎ (masc.)
  •  Bulgarian: страшен‎ (strášen), ужасен‎ (užásen)
  •  Finnish: hirveä‎, kamala‎, kauhea‎

What is the origin of the word dire?

According to Etymonline, the word dire has been used since the c16 Middle English and comes from the Latin dirus/Latin dīrus. This is a cognate with the Greek deinos, Sanskrit dvis, and Proto-Indo-European roots dwei. This word is related to the Greek deos fear.

What are synonyms and antonyms of dire?

There is a vast collection of words that can be used in place of the word dire. These are known as synonyms or synonym estimates in natural sounding English. Synonyms are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are trying to grow your vocabulary as well as if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word dire is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  apocalyptic
  •  extreme
  •  appalling
  •  nasty
  •  frightening
  •  shocking
  •  grim
  •  grisly
  •  difficult
  •  terrifying
  •  precarious
  •  hideous
  •  tough
  •  calamitous
  •  heinous
  •  tragic
  •  catastrophic
  •  ghastly
  •  redoubtable
  •  horrible
  •  sad
  •  fatal
  •  drastic
  •  cruel
  •  wretched
  •  weighty
  •  unfortunate
  •  fearsome
  •  sore
  •  gloomy
  •  serious
  •  massive
  •  unlucky
  •  messy
  •  woeful
  •  acute
  •  gruesome
  •  dread
  •  frightful
  •  sensitive
  •  portentous
  •  ruinous
  •  macabre
  •  alarming
  •  dismal
  •  arduous
  •  horrendous
  •  hopeless
  •  fearful
  •  awful
  •  horrid
  •  grievous
  •  severe
  •  ominous
  •  dreaded
  •  profound
  •  painful
  •  critical
  •  abysmal
  •  exigent
  •  dark
  •  disturbing
  •  dreadful
  •  rugged
  •  trying
  •  abominable
  •  sinister
  •  inauspicious
  •  bad
  •  evil
  •  horrifying
  •  scary
  •  desperate
  •  atrocious
  •  laborious
  •  grave
  •  unbearable
  •  mortal
  •  horrific
  •  harrowing
  •  oppressive
  •  baleful
  •  taxing
  •  direful
  •  terrible
  •  crying
  •  monstrous
  •  pressing
  •  formidable
  •  disastrous
  •  hard
  •  cataclysmic
  •  deplorable
  •  lamentable
  •  black
  •  parlous
  •  distressing
  •  menacing
  •  heartrending
  •  urgent

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word dire. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are also useful to know if you are trying to improve your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word dire is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  harmless
  •  ace
  •  comical
  •  ape shit
  •  flush
  •  all right
  •  having a lot of money
  •  favourite
  •  as pretty as a picture
  •  fantastical
  •  extraordinary
  •  cash rich
  •  glorious
  •  champion
  •  golden
  •  incidental
  •  propitious
  •  favorable
  •  brilliant
  •  great
  •  cordon bleu
  •  fantastic
  •  top-notch
  •  slight
  •  supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
  •  a1
  •  comfortable
  •  happy
  •  hunky-dory
  •  best thing since sliced bread
  •  unimportant
  •  awesomazing
  •  hilarious
  •  darn well
  •  dispensable
  •  cheerful
  •  bosting
  •  as well as possible
  •  negligible
  •  affluent
  •  wonderful
  •  good
  •  high-level
  •  beautiful
  •  capital
  •  bow-wow
  •  auspicious
  •  minor
  •  alco
  •  fine and dandy
  •  dyno
  •  delicious
  •  brave
  •  inconsiderable
  •  immaterial
  •  filthy rich
  •  arsey
  •  cheering
  •  amazeballs
  •  medical
  •  inferior
  •  cherishable
  •  excellent
  •  frivolous
  •  promising
  •  blinding
  •  insignificant
  •  eellogofusciouhipoppokunurious
  •  as fine as possible
  •  inconsequential
  •  heart warming
  •  pretty good
  •  class
  •  breath taking
  •  small
  •  god-like
  •  as good as possible
  •  fairly well
  •  awesome
  •  fortunate
  •  deep-pocketed
  •  cracking
  •  amazing
  •  ancillary
  •  above average
  •  brill
  •  best in class
  •  above par
  •  in the money
  •  bright
  •  celestial
  •  auxiliary
  •  trivial
  •  all wool and a yard wide
  •  encouraging
  •  inessential
  •  godlike
  •  beneficial
  •  innocent
  •  fab

How can the word dire be used in a sentence?

Using a word in a sentence is a great way to learn its definition. You could also try making flashcards or a quiz to test your knowledge of new lingo and new words. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are several different examples of using the word dire in a sentence to help get you started.

They received the dire news that they would be put at awful risk in the awful war. They had seen the videos of the horrendous explosions since childhood, and now were going to be put in the line of fire. Not only that, but they would likely come home with a desperate illness if they made it back at all.

The terrible curse had gotten into the wrong hands, and now the young boy had the dire curse of wolves morphing. He could feel the fearful howling bubbling in his throat, and his wolf brain was determined to enact vengeance on the werewolf who bit him in London in the desperate situation.

The person who succeeded Diocletian in government, Galerius, implacably pursued his policy. It is said that the great persecution lid not end until the persecutor of the dire isalady of Herod and Philip II put a stop to it.

The Princeton University student thought of Kiera, her friend from home, and how she would never be afforded the same opportunities due to the dire straits her family was in financially. She sent her a necklace, which rang with the inkling of the importance of this gift.

Overall, the word dire means characterized by misfortune. This adjective is of Latin roots.


  1. Dire definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  2. dire | Origin and meaning of dire by Online Etymology Dictionary 
  3. Dire antonyms – 464 Opposites of Dire | Power Thesaurus 
  4. dire: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  5. Dire synonyms – 1 546 Words and Phrases for Dire | Power Thesaurus