February 23, 2013
desperado (noun)
\dess-puh-RAH-doh\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a bold or reckless criminal
How do you use it?
Everyone in our class wanted to be cast as Jesse James in the play, so Ms. Rolf put all of our names into a hat and drew one to determine who would play the part of the desperado.
Are you a word wiz?

In which of the following languages do you think the word "desperado" most likely originated?

"Desperado" sounds like it might have come from Spanish, but it actually is believed to come from an English word. Scholars think that in the 1600s, about 200 years before anyone had heard of Jesse James, the now obsolete English noun "desperate," which once meant someone or something full of hopelessness and despair, was changed to form "desperado." Perhaps English speakers used the Spanish ending "-ado" as a model for making this change. "Desperado" was first used to mean a bold or reckless criminal, and beginning in the late 1800s, referred especially to a bandit of the western United States.
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