D&D General ‪What does the word “dire”‬ mean to you?

What does Dire mean?

  • Better (bigger, more ferocious), American

    Votes: 47 65.3%
  • Better (bigger, more ferocious), British

    Votes: 8 11.1%
  • Worse (poor, rubbish, inferior), American

    Votes: 5 6.9%
  • Worse (poor, rubbish, inferior), British

    Votes: 12 16.7%


Well, that was fun
Staff member
‪What does the word “dire”‬ mean to you? (As in “dire badger”)? And also, do you primarily speak British or American? I think there’s a difference in usage. Which might explain why every group I’ve gamed with has said “you’re a poor example of a badger!” I wonder if it’s an American usage which doesn’t translate to the U.K.

Looking it up, I see:

British: poor quality
American: urgent/serious

I do know more than one person in the UK who asked if the wolves in Game of Thrones — “Dire? What’s wrong with them?”

It’s a poll. Vote above! Use the following definitions for shorthand:


(better or worse isn’t some moral judgement; if you don’t get what it means, feel free to skip this — it’s explained above)

(We have a skit on this incoming but need to check it’s not just a personal thing!)‬

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Both meanings... But primarily that it is bad. Like the reason a band singing about moving furnitures or playing guitar on mtv is called Dire Straits.. ;) I try to write British English, but I fear my pronounciation is a bit more American.
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Limit Break Dancing
To me, dire means "dreadful." A dire wolf is a dreadful wolf...one that is bigger, tougher, and more ferocious than your garden-variety wolf. So I voted "better," and I speak American English.

(Well, mostly. I've picked up a bit of British pronunciations and spellings from my wife.)
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Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Serious, extreme, desperate, US English

I get the difference though. Folks here in the states don't, in my experience, use dire to mean pathetic or pitiable, or really use it in everyday conversation at all, except in a cliche like dire consequence.
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For me, "Dire" means terrible in consequence, a thing to be feared. I don't think "Better" or "Worse" are really relevant. A dire version of a creature might be better or worse at actually being that creature - but it's most definitely worse news for you if you encounter it.


Scruffy and Determined
yeah idk if "dire = better" is the best way of putting it, I much rather encounter a wolf than a direwolf, and a direwolf is only "better" than a wolf in certain aspects.


Dire means more dangerous in a bad way for the other object or person of the sentence.

Rat= rat
Dire rat = Danger rat
Giant rat = Big rat
Swarms of rats = Lotta rats

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