de·​ser·​tion | \ di-ˈzər-shən How to pronounce desertion (audio) \

Definition of desertion

1 : an act of deserting especially : the abandonment without consent or legal justification of a person, post, or relationship and the associated duties and obligations sued for divorce on grounds of desertion
2 : a state of being deserted or forsaken

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Synonyms & Antonyms for desertion



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Examples of desertion in a Sentence

the soldiers were imprisoned for desertion of their posts
Recent Examples on the Web Roughly 800,000 federal employees were furloughed or compelled to work without pay while daily reports told of coast-guards visiting food banks, IRS desertions and FBI indictments postponed for want of cash. The Economist, "Plot twists 2019 in review: United States," 20 Dec. 2019 The word, meaning an evasion or a desertion, was Merriam-Webster’s top look-up on Jan. 24 after Will used it in a column in reference to Lindsey Graham., "The language mavens at Merriam-Webster have declared the personal pronoun their word of the year based on a 313 percent increase in look-ups on the company’s search site,, this year when compared with 2018.," 11 Dec. 2019 The word, meaning an evasion or a desertion, was Merriam-Webster's top look-up on January 24 after Will used it in a column in reference to Lindsey Graham. CBS News, "Merriam-Webster unveils its 2019 word of the year: "They"," 10 Dec. 2019 The word, meaning an evasion or a desertion, was Merriam-Webster’s top look-up on Jan. 24 after Will used it in a column in reference to Lindsey Graham. Washington Post, "Merriam-Webster declares ‘they’ its 2019 word of the year," 10 Dec. 2019 But the opposition campaigns were lackluster due to infighting and desertions in the run-up to the vote. San Diego Union-Tribune, "2 Indian states hold elections; Modi’s party expected to win," 21 Oct. 2019 Lowell’s desertion of Hardwick was for a while masked by his deceptions, and by the simple bewilderment engendered, in those days, by transatlantic letters crossing in the mail. Thomas Mallon, The New Yorker, "Marriage, Betrayal, and the Letters Behind “The Dolphin”," 9 Dec. 2019 Baghdadi's death could not have come at a better time, offering Republicans rare good news to rally around, amid devastating revelations from the impeachment inquiry and fury over Trump's desertion of the Syrian Kurds. Stephen Collinson And Caitlin Hu, CNN, "With Baghdadi gone, a political battle is just beginning," 27 Oct. 2019 The businesses all collapsed with the real estate downturn at the end of the 1980s, leaving behind a financial shamble and desertion by scores of followers. David Owens,, "Brother Julius follower pleads no contest in killing, dismemberment of cult’s ‘chief apostle’," 21 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desertion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of desertion

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for desertion

Time Traveler

The first known use of desertion was in 1591

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Statistics for desertion

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Desertion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for desertion



Legal Definition of desertion

: the forsaking of a person, post, or relationship: as
a : permanent withdrawal from living with one's spouse without the spouse's consent and without cause or justification

Note: Desertion is a ground for divorce in many states.

b : intentional permanent termination of custody over one's child also : abandonment
c : abandonment of military duty without leave and without the intent to return

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