despair / hopelessness

  • spodulike

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think the main difference is in the way that they can be used. For example they can both be nouns but only despair can be a verb. Also "despair" is more literary than "hopelessness"

    There isn´t really a difference in meaning. Similarly there isn´t much difference between desesperación and desesperanza.
     

    medico zen

    Senior Member
    México, español
    Gracias spodulike. Ahora que lo mencionas, creo que hay una diferencia de matíz en español entre desesperación y desesperanza. A mi me parece que la desesperanza es más definitiva. Como que en la desesperación aun hay alguna posibilidad, alguna espera.
     

    scotu

    Senior Member
    Chicago English
    Hopelessness is the abandonment of hope of something (health, success, your marriage)

    Despair is a general feeling that everything is wrong and nothing will turn out well.
     

    stumerr

    Senior Member
    US
    US English
    Gracias spodulike. Ahora que lo mencionas, creo que hay una diferencia de matíz en español entre desesperación y desesperanza. A mi me parece que la desesperanza es más definitiva. Como que en la desesperación aun hay alguna posibilidad, alguna espera.
    Yes, but on the other hand, despair/desperation is a more active form of discontent, while hopelessness is more passive, IMHO. I would be more worried about a friend's despair than their hopelessness because someone is more likely to do something bad in their despair, while time may very well bring some hope to hopelessness.

    These nuances are wonderfully elusive!
     
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    mylam

    Senior Member
    United States English
    To me, desperation is very different from both hopelessness and despair. Desperation implies a willingness to do (nearly) anything to get the desired result. Hopelessness and despair reflect an attitude of "nothing's going to help". I would translate desesperación as desperation, not as despair. I can't articulate any difference between despair and hopelessness.
     

    sanxuan

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Estoy de acuerdo con mylam. Durante un ataque de desesperación, uno puede estar muy lejos de la deseperanza.
    Sin embargo estar al borde de la desesperación, sí puede ser estar al borde de la desesperanza.

    Según www.rae.es/desesperación :
    desesperación
    1. f. Pérdida total de la esperanza. (= desesperanza)
    2. f. Alteración extrema del ánimo causada por cólera, despecho o enojo.
     

    stumerr

    Senior Member
    US
    US English
    To me, desperation is very different from both hopelessness and despair. Desperation implies a willingness to do (nearly) anything to get the desired result. Hopelessness and despair reflect an attitude of "nothing's going to help". I would translate desesperación as desperation, not as despair. I can't articulate any difference between despair and hopelessness.
    Yes, your point is extremely well taken, but I still feel "despair" is somehow more dangerous than "hopelessness." I'm gonna look it up. OK, "despair,"

    "Despair suggests total loss of hope, which may be passive or may drive one to furious efforts, even if at random: in the depths of despair; courage born of despair. Desperation is usually an active state, the abandonment of hope impelling to a furious struggle against adverse circumstances, with utter disregard of consequences: an act of desperation when everything else had failed. ...Hopelessness is a loss of hope so complete as to result in a more or less permanent state of passive despair: a state of hopelessness and apathy."

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/despair

    The thing I'm most sure about is that these darling nuances are slippery as oily eels! ("slippery as oily eels" is NOT an English expression!)

    "Hopelessness is a loss of hope so complete as to result in a more or less permanent state of passive despair," but that's only the way it feels, very few of these kinds of feelings are truly "permanent." Perspective almost always changes with time. Desperation is more dangerous than resignation b/c an "act of desperation" may forever forgo the benefits that come with the passage of time.
     
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    mylam

    Senior Member
    United States English
    I hadn't thought about the "courage born of despair" example. But to me that is still in the context of a "nothing's going to help" attitude; one is driven to action, but without any real hope that the action will result in anything positive, the action is a mere fulfillment of duty (for example). Despair is generally passive.

    Desperation to me does involve a remote hope that extreme action can better the situation.

    Again, these are my impressions. :)
     
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