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 Dawn Basom, an eighth-grader, was dumped along a desolate Ypsilanti road. Freep.com, "Murders of Michigan women still unsolved 50 years later — but cops had eye on 1 man," 10 Nov. 2019 Strope’s body was found about 7:30 a.m. Saturday on a rather desolate stretch of street occupied by storage bays and containers in the 900 block of Northwest 10th Avenue, police said. Tonya Alanez, sun-sentinel.com, "Woman found near street died from gunshot, not hit-and-run, police say," 28 Oct. 2019 Between 2005 and 2009, every few months someone discovered a female body dumped either in a waterway or on a desolate back road. Deanna Paul, Washington Post, "'Murder in the Bayou’: A docuseries about eight unsolved murders aims to expose police corruption," 11 Oct. 2019 That was a different type of gruelling experience: desolate, alien. The Economist, "The last of the great explorers," 6 Sep. 2019 Since the Fourth of July, tourists, geologists and students have converged on the once-desolate spot from far and wide, to see the ruptures on Highway 178 caused by last week’s magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes. Giulia Mcdonnell Nieto Del Rio, latimes.com, "Seismic selfies: Massive earthquake surface rupture becomes tourist attraction," 9 July 2019 After riding for about a mile and a half down Kinsman - just past the infamously dangerous Garden Valley housing projects where the Korpers used to live - the kids stand to exit at the desolate corner of East 62nd Street. Leila Atassi, cleveland.com, "The Korper kids' daily journey home from school -- what it takes to make it safely: A Greater Cleveland," 17 Jan. 2018 This is easily one of the most high-concept episodes, as the Tick and his mind encounter the vast, featureless, desolate expanse that is his consciousness. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Ars celebrates 25 years of The Tick by picking our top ten favorite episodes," 10 Sep. 2019 Commissioners and Sheriff Kerry Lee have said promoters' plans to bring in food, water and entertainment could help people survive in the desolate desert nearly three hours' drive from Las Vegas. Fox News, "'Storm Area 51' alien-themed events in Nevada get final approval from county," 4 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Scar then proceeds to desolate the kingdom, with the help of hyenas, while Simba, in exile, grows up to become a pleasure-hunting, grub-eating sluggard. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Does “The Lion King” Need C.G.I.?," 19 July 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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Time Traveler for desolate

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for desolate

Last Updated

21 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Desolate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/desolates. Accessed 22 November 2019.

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More Definitions for desolate

desolate

adjective
How to pronounce desolate (audio)

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
How to pronounce desolate (audio)

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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Comments on desolate

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