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 The biggest challenge of my time there was the Bowe Bergdahl desertion and rescue attempts that followed. Jason Hoffman, The Enquirer, 27 Aug. 2021 But because of corruption, desertion and casualties, only a sixth of that number were actually in the fight against the Taliban this year, U.S. officials say. New York Times, 19 Aug. 2021 Recruiting was hard enough, but was compounded by startling rates of desertion and attrition. Craig Whitlock, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Aug. 2021 Lori defied a court order to produce the children, and was arrested and jailed on felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, among other charges. Jeff Truesdell,, 2 Sep. 2021 But Tremlett also makes note of those who used the chaos of the war to commit crimes or who were executed for desertion., 19 Aug. 2021 Other uniquely military crimes such as desertion would remain under commanders’ purview. Los Angeles Times, 24 June 2021 She was charged with desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, contempt of court and willful disobedience of court process or order. Christine Pelisek,, 6 Aug. 2021 None of this seems destined to end well; the opening sequence is both tense and intense, riffing on old-school fears of parental loss or desertion. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 8 July 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near desertion



desert ironwood

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Statistics for desertion

Last Updated

19 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Desertion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on desertion

Nglish: Translation of desertion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of desertion for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about desertion


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