desolate

adjective
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-lət How to pronounce desolate (audio) , ˈde-zə-\

Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : devoid of inhabitants and visitors : deserted a desolate abandoned town
2 : joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful through or as if through separation from a loved one a desolate widow
3a : showing the effects of abandonment and neglect : dilapidated a desolate old house
b : barren, lifeless a desolate landscape
c : devoid of warmth, comfort, or hope : gloomy desolate memories

desolate

verb
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-ˌlāt How to pronounce desolate (audio) , ˈde-zə-\
desolated; desolating

Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make desolate:
a : to deprive of inhabitants The neighboring towns were desolated.
b : to lay waste desolating the city with bombs
c : forsake their desolated families back home
d : to make wretched

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Other Words from desolate

Adjective

desolately adverb
desolateness noun

Verb

desolater or desolator \ ˈde-​sə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce desolator (audio) , ˈde-​zə-​ \ noun
desolatingly \ ˈde-​sə-​ˌlā-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce desolatingly (audio) , ˈde-​zə-​ \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for desolate

Adjective

alone, solitary, lonely, lonesome, lone, forlorn, desolate mean isolated from others. alone stresses the objective fact of being by oneself with slighter notion of emotional involvement than most of the remaining terms. everyone needs to be alone sometimes solitary may indicate isolation as a chosen course glorying in the calm of her solitary life but more often it suggests sadness and a sense of loss. left solitary by the death of his wife lonely adds to solitary a suggestion of longing for companionship. felt lonely and forsaken lonesome heightens the suggestion of sadness and poignancy. an only child often leads a lonesome life lone may replace lonely or lonesome but typically is as objective as alone. a lone robin pecking at the lawn forlorn stresses dejection, woe, and listlessness at separation from one held dear. a forlorn lost child desolate implies inconsolable grief at loss or bereavement. desolate after her brother's death

dismal, dreary, bleak, gloomy, cheerless, desolate mean devoid of cheer or comfort. dismal indicates extreme and utterly depressing gloominess. dismal weather dreary, often interchangeable with dismal, emphasizes discouragement resulting from sustained dullness or futility. a dreary job bleak suggests chill, dull, and barren characteristics that utterly dishearten. the bleak years of the depression gloomy often suggests lack of hope or promise. gloomy war news cheerless stresses absence of anything cheering. a drab and cheerless office desolate adds an element of utter remoteness or lack of human contact to any already disheartening aspect. a desolate outpost

What is the word origin of desolate?

Adjective

Something that is desolate is literally or figuratively "abandoned," so you probably won't be surprised to learn that "desolate" has its roots in the Latin verb desolare, meaning "to abandon." The Middle English word desolat comes from the past participle of "desolare," which in turn combines the prefix de- and the adjective solus, meaning "alone." "Desolate" is not at all alone in this family of words. Some other familiar descendants of "solus" include "solitary," "sole," "solo," "solitude," and "soliloquy."

Examples of desolate in a Sentence

Adjective

a desolate house abandoned many years ago destitute and desolate since her husband walked out on her

Verb

totally desolated the city with aerial bombs
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Every frame feels precisely blocked, and even Talbot’s efforts to capture the more desolate parts of the city have a haunted sort of beauty to them. David Sims, The Atlantic, "A Painterly Mood Piece About a Changing City," 10 June 2019 In Yosemite, roads were desolate and campgrounds deserted amid hazy smoke after the park’s noon evacuation deadline on Wednesday, as a natural region usually crowded with tourists this time of year was rendered nearly empty. Marc Vartabedian, WSJ, "Wildfire Drives Tourists From Yosemite, Takes Local Economy With It," 27 July 2018 The last residents evacuated from the provincial capital are now largely in desolate camps in the former lakeside resort of Habbaniya and Amariyat al-Fallujah near the outskirts of Baghdad. Jane Arraf, Newsweek, "How Iraqi Forces Drove ISIS From Ramadi," 25 Feb. 2016 All by itself, Wall-E’s sublime, dreamy opening sequence, in which a lonely android compacts trash on a desolate planet while enjoying the strains of Hello, Dolly!, would warrant its place at the top of our list. Allegra Frank, Vox, "All 21 Pixar movies, definitively ranked," 27 June 2019 Microsoft's press conference that year featured a game called ReCore, starring a woman named Joule who explores a desolate world accompanied by a trio of mechanical companions. Carolyn Petit, WIRED, "Female Representation in Videogames Isn't Getting Any Better," 14 June 2019 Three months after D-Day, my father began serving as pastor of a church at a desolate crossroads in western Wyoming. Fred Niedner, Post-Tribune, "D-Day recollections remind us of horrors of war," 7 June 2019 That survival mechanism would explain how the community managed to thrive in such seemingly desolate conditions. Shannon Hall, Scientific American, "The Not So Dead Sea: Traces of Ancient Bacteria Found in the Lake’s Sediments," 5 June 2019 What’s left are desolate, uninhabited stretches of border where construction logistics are difficult, crossing is difficult, and the Border Patrol’s detection work is relatively easy. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The shutdown is intractable because Trump’s wall is ridiculous and Republicans know it," 8 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desolate.' 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 desolate

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for desolate

Adjective and Verb

Middle English desolat, from Latin desolatus, past participle of desolare to abandon, from de- + solus alone

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Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for desolate

The first known use of desolate was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for desolate

desolate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: lacking the people, plants, animals, etc., that make people feel welcome in a place
: very sad and lonely especially because someone you love has died or left

desolate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

formal + literary
: to make (someone) feel very sad and lonely for a long time
: to damage (a place) in such a way that it is no longer suitable for people to live in

desolate

adjective
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-lət How to pronounce desolate (audio) \

Kids Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having no comfort or companionship : lonely
2 : left neglected or in ruins a desolate old house
3 : without signs of life : barren a dry, desolate land
4 : cheerless, gloomy She put aside desolate thoughts.

Other Words from desolate

desolately adverb

desolate

verb
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-ˌlāt How to pronounce desolate (audio) \
desolated; desolating

Kids Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to ruin or leave without comfort or companionship

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More from Merriam-Webster on desolate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with desolate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for desolate

Spanish Central: Translation of desolate

Nglish: Translation of desolate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of desolate for Arabic Speakers

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