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 | \ -ˌlāt How to pronounce desolate (audio) \
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 \ -​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce desolator (audio) \ noun
desolatingly \ -​ˌlā-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce desolatingly (audio) \ 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

Once something sells, it won’t be replaced on the sales floor, meaning that by the time the exhibition closes on October 8, the store space will either be desolate or, maybe, still completely stocked. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "The Making of Eckhaus Latta’s Shoppable Whitney Museum Exhibition," 2 Aug. 2018 Seemingly every small town in the West hosts a rodeo, and pro riders spend as many as 200 nights a year away from home, crisscrossing desolate highways in the wee hours, sleeping in parking lots or rest stops, and subsisting on fast food. Andrew Graybill, WSJ, "‘The Last Cowboys’ Review: Giving Good Rein," 25 May 2018 One night, as outside winds stirred up dusty whorls of snow in the parking lot, whipped across the plains and over the treaty land where the camps had been, inside felt briefly desolate, too. Rebecca Bengal, Vogue, "The Power of Nathan Phillips’s Song," 21 Jan. 2019 An explosive wildfire raging for more than three weeks near the iconic Yosemite National Park has turned the scenic valley into a desolate landscape choked with smoke with air quality as bad as Beijing's. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Yosemite National Park closed by 'hazardous' air from explosive Ferguson fire in California," 5 Aug. 2018 The first orbital spaceport, in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, lies amid an arid, desolate Asian steppe. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "As the SpaceX steamroller surges, European rocket industry vows to resist," 20 July 2018 New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument is a desolate place; sparse vegetation pokes up throughout its salt flats and white gypsum dunes. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Fossil Tracks May Record Ancient Humans Hunting Giant Sloths," 30 Apr. 2018 And cinematographer Magnus Nordenhof Jønck finds beauty in the most desolate places; even flashing police lights set against nightfall are inviting. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Charlie Plummer plays an everyday hero in unsparing 'Lean on Pete'," 12 Apr. 2018 Tampa’s downtown was once a desolate area at night. Arian Campo-flores, WSJ, "Former Hedge-Fund Titan and Bill Gates Are Betting Billions on Tampa," 4 Dec. 2018

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

14 Mar 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

Comments on desolate

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