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From Middle English wanhope, equivalent to wan- +‎ hope. Cognate with Scots wanhop, wanhope (wanhope, despair), West Frisian wanhope (wanhope, despair), Dutch wanhoop (despair).



wanhope (usually uncountable, plural wanhopes)

  1. (Britain dialectal or archaic) Lack of hope; hopelessness; despair.
    • Late 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer, ‘The Knight's Tale’, Canterbury Tales:
      Wel oughte I sterve in wanhope and distresse. / Farwel my lif, my lust, and my gladnesse!
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter x, in Le Morte Darthur, book XVI:
      Thenne he ouertoke a man clothed in a Relygyous clothynge / [] / and sayd syre knyȝte what seke yow / Syre sayd he I seke my broder that I sawe within a whyle beten with two knyghtes / A Bors discomforte yow not / ne falle in to no wanhope / for I shall telle you tydynges suche as they ben / for truly he is dede
    • 1898, Georgiana Lea Morril, editor, Speculum Gy de Warewyke: An English Poem, page 57:
      Wanhope: a fine English word, suggesting unhope of Langland's story of the cats and the mice, and described in Ipotis, []
    • 1991, Vladimir Ivir, Damir Kalogjera, editor, Languages in Contact and Contrast, →ISBN, page 411:
      If [] such good old English words as inwit and wanhope should be rehabilitated (and they have been pushing up their heads for thirty years), we should gain a great deal. (Collected essays, 1928, III.68)
    • 2007, Michael D. C. Drout, J.R.R. Tolkien encyclopedia: scholarship and critical assessment:
      Both despair and wanhope are generally defined as a complete loss or lack of hope and being overcome by sense of futility or defeat.
  2. Vain hope; overconfidence; delusion.