be in dire straits

be in dire straits

To be in a very bleak or grim situation. All of those recent layoffs indicate that the company is in dire straits. I was in dire straits there for a while, but I'm feeling much better after my hospital stay.
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.