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 His attempt at reproducing garage’s gleeful, striding rhythms ended up feeling desolate and dark, like someone skipping through the mud. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "Burial’s Search for Fleeting Moments," 2 Dec. 2019 After the Georgia Flu does its deadly work, a group of actors and musicians rove a desolate and often dangerous landscape to perform music and Shakespeare in the settlements that remain. Ew Staff, EW.com, "Here are EW's top 10 fiction books of the decade," 25 Nov. 2019 There was no boat and no fisherman; the harbor could be called peaceful or desolate. New York Times, "A Mother Journeys Through Grief Across Finland’s Many Islands," 12 Nov. 2019 Chung, a former director of TV commercials who also handles the lighting of his films under the name Nagao Nakashima, is very much in control of the desolate but poetic mood that makes the film feel so distinctive. Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, "'A Sun' ('Yang Guang Pu Zhao'): Film Review | Tokyo 2019," 8 Nov. 2019 Their climates are among the harshest on the planet: the temperature in Chukotka once tumbled to -61ºC. The scenery on both sides is a desolate but beautiful mix of tundra, lake and mountain, frozen for eight months of the year. The Economist, "Russia’s Chukotka and America’s Alaska are an era apart," 17 Oct. 2019 Two decades later, the area has transformed from desolate and unhabitable to lively and vibrant, with colleges, schools and small businesses. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry Meets with the President of Angola While Continuing Princess Diana's Work in the Country," 28 Sep. 2019 Two decades later, the area has transformed from desolate and uninhabitable to lively and vibrant, with colleges, schools and small businesses. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Retraces Princess Diana's Footsteps in Angola Minefields," 27 Sep. 2019 In South Florida, as the storm’s outer bands began sweeping through Monday, towns were desolate and highway traffic sparse from Boca Raton north through St. Lucie County. David Fleshler, sun-sentinel.com, "No more storm watches or warnings for Palm Beach County, as Hurricane Dorian weakens and heads northwest," 3 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

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Desolate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/desolatingly?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=d&file=desola05. Accessed 12 December 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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