dire straits, in

in dire straits

In a very bleak or grim situation. The recent nosedive in the stock market has left many companies 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

in dire straits

Fig. in a very serious, bad circumstance. We are nearly broke and need money for medicine. We are in dire straits.
See also: dire, strait

dire straits, in

In an awful situation, terrible circumstances. The adjective “dire,” which dates from the mid-1500s, is rarely heard today except in this cliché and one other phrase, dire necessity, which uses it more or less hyperbolically (as, for example, in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s 1836 letter, “The dire necessity of having every window in the house open . . .”). In contrast, the cliché describes a genuine difficulty or danger, as in “The stock-market crash left him in dire straits financially.” Also the name of a British rock band active from 1977 to 1995.
See also: dire