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As Anna read aloud from a serious book of verse to her aunt, her expression remained sad and despondent. Anna was stuck reading to her moody old relative for hours while her sisters went on a picnic outdoors—being left behind made Anna feel gloomy and despondent. In her unhappy despair and despondency, Anna read more and more slowly until her voice broke and miserable tears streamed down her face.

Quiz: When might someone feel despondent?

  • They are given a challenging job to finish by the end of the day.
  • They feel bored at their current job and hope to find a new one.
  • They have tried to find a job for months and feel hopeless.

Memory Hook

Sent to a Deep Pond She felt so despondent when her beloved died that she felt that her entire mind was sent into a deep pond of despair from which it seemingly would never return.


  • "Baseball was all we had left," says José Manuel Benitez, a despondent fan staring up at the locked stadium in the center of the city. —The Christian Science Monitor
  • In the past year, Sheron Patterson, senior pastor at Hamilton Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, has grieved the loss of way too many church members to the virus. That heartbreak, coupled with racial unrest, had left her despondent, depressed and, she says, “beaten down.” —The Dallas Morning News
  • His record deal and publishing contract vanished in an instant. He collapsed into depression, despondent not only about his flatlining career but also his inability to help support his family, especially while expecting their first child. —NPR
  • "[English football players are] becoming despondent, disillusioned, because there's so much uncertainty over their future. . . . "They were told they'd still have a chance to prove themselves, but now they've been told they've not got a future at the club. It's heartbreaking for them and they don't know what to do next. —BBC Sport

Word Ingredients

de- down, off, from
spond pledge, promise
-ent being in a state or condition

When you break “from a pledge or promise” you have made to yourself, you can become despondent, that is, “discouraged” or “depressed”; in a like vein, you can also become “depressed” if someone breaks “from a pledge or promise” to you.

Word Theater

Blue Peter Marvin is one despondent robot.

Word Constellation


Word Variants

despondency n depression; discouragement