Dire straits

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To be in dire straits means to be in desperate trouble or impending danger. Dire means extremely serious. Straits are narrow passages of water which connect two larger bodies of water, navigating them may often become perilous. In the mid-sixteenth century, straits came to mean any difficult situation, one that carries a high degree of trouble. A newspaper column in the Rome News-Tribune in September of 2000 cites United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the first known user of the term dire straits in a 1933 radio address concerning those out of work during The Great Depression. Details about early usage of this phrase is hard to come by, but the phrase dire straits was common enough to be the choice for a British band’s name in 1977.


Modi’s own constituency of Banaras has many handloom weavers living in dire straits. (The India Tribune)

“We acknowledge the economy is in dire straits, due to a myriad of economic various factors and challenges,” said Njabulo Ncube Zinef Acting Chairperson. (New Zimbabwe)

“I would prefer that they wouldn’t do it and I do worry about them, but I insisted they have a tracker system with an emergency button they can press if they get into dire straits and we can find out where they are. (The Irish Times)

“Government exists to serve the people and when people are, through no fault of their own especially, put in dire straits, that’s when our government needs to be as responsive as it can be,” Dayton said at a news conference Wednesday. (The StarTribune)

Even though the Depression left Detroit in dire straits during Murphy’s entire time in City Hall, he shepherded the city through it. (The Detroit Free Press)

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