Dictionary

1desert

noun des·ert \ˈde-zərt\

Definition of DESERT

1
a :  arid land with usually sparse vegetation; especially :  such land having a very warm climate and receiving less than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of sporadic rainfall annually
b :  an area of water apparently devoid of life
2
archaic :  a wild uninhabited and uncultivated tract
3
:  a desolate or forbidding area <lost in a desert of doubt>
de·ser·tic \de-ˈzər-tik\ adjective
des·ert·like \-ˌlīk\ adjective
ADVERTISEMENT

Examples of DESERT

  1. Satellite images taken this year and 20 years ago show that the desert is in retreat thanks to a resurgence of trees. —Andy Coghlan, New Scientist, 14-20 Oct. 2006

Origin of DESERT

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin desertum, from Latin, neuter of desertus, past participle of deserere to desert, from de- + serere to join together — more at series
First Known Use: 13th century

Other Geology Terms

anthracite, boulder, cwm, erratic, igneous, intrusive, mesa, sedimentary, silt, swale

2desert

adjective des·ert \ˈde-zərt\

Definition of DESERT

1
:  desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied <a desert island>
2
:  of or relating to a desert (see 1desert)
3
archaic :  forsaken

Examples of DESERT

  1. While my very American mother swabbed the dishes, Dad lingered at the dinner table, recreating in visceral detail the taste of mint in a Bedouin teacup under a desert sky, or the golden plumage of his father's saluki dogs, or the filigreed robes of the young king at the camel races. —Diana Abu-Jaber, Vogue, May 2007

Origin of DESERT

(see 1desert)
First Known Use: 13th century

Other Ecology Terms

Malthusian, anthropogenic, biomass, carbon footprint, crepuscular, niche, sere, symbiosis, taiga, tundra

3desert

noun de·sert \di-ˈzərt\

Definition of DESERT

1
:  the quality or fact of meriting reward or punishment
2
:  deserved reward or punishment —usually used in plural <got their just deserts>

Origin of DESERT

Middle English deserte, from Anglo-French, from feminine of desert, past participle of deservir to deserve
First Known Use: 13th century

4desert

verb de·sert \di-ˈzərt\

: to go away from (a place) : to leave (a place)

: to leave and stop helping or supporting (someone or something)

of a useful quality or ability : to no longer be with (someone) in a time of need

Full Definition of DESERT

transitive verb
1
:  to withdraw from or leave usually without intent to return <desert a town>
2
a :  to leave in the lurch <desert a friend in trouble>
b :  to abandon (military service) without leave
intransitive verb
:  to quit one's post, allegiance, or service without leave or justification; especially :  to abandon military duty without leave and without intent to return
de·sert·er noun

Examples of DESERT

  1. The inhabitants had deserted the town.
  2. She had been married for just over a year when her husband deserted her.
  3. He was deserted by his friends and family.
  4. Boulet saw his longtime partner desert him in the midst of the storm, then had his wife and daughter skip town in its aftermath. —Mike Flaherty, TV Guide, 10-16 Sept. 2007

Origin of DESERT

French déserter, from Late Latin desertare, frequentative of Latin deserere
First Known Use: 1603

Synonym Discussion of DESERT

abandon, desert, forsake mean to leave without intending to return. abandon suggests that the thing or person left may be helpless without protection <abandoned children>. desert implies that the object left may be weakened but not destroyed by one's absence <a deserted town>. forsake suggests an action more likely to bring impoverishment or bereavement to that which is forsaken than its exposure to physical dangers <a forsaken lover>.
DESERTIC Defined for Kids

1desert

noun des·ert \ˈde-zərt\

Definition of DESERT for Kids

:  a dry land with few plants and little rainfall

2desert

noun de·sert \di-ˈzərt\

Definition of DESERT for Kids

:  a reward or punishment that a person deserves <He got his just deserts.>

3desert

verb de·sert \di-ˈzərt\
de·sert·edde·sert·ing

Definition of DESERT for Kids

1
:  to leave usually without intending to return <The entire population deserted the town.>
2
:  to leave a person or a thing that one should stay with <The soldier did not desert his post.>
3
:  to fail in time of need <My courage deserted me.>
de·sert·er noun

Headscratcher for DESERT

There are three words spelled desert. One means a dry land, one means what a person deserves, and one means to abandon a place or person. But none mean the goodies you eat after dinner—that's your dessert!

Browse

Next Word in the Dictionary: desert armorPrevious Word in the Dictionary: desensitizeAll Words Near: desert
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears