be in dire straits

be in dire straits

to be in a very difficult or dangerous situation The earthquake and the war will leave the country in dire straits for a long time. They are in dire financial straits.
See also: dire, strait
References in classic literature ?
And if we are able thus to attack an inferior force with a superior one, our opponents will be in dire straits.
Even though the media companies seem to be in dire straits, they are actually generating free and clear earnings,'' he said.