des·o·la·tion | \ˌde-sə-ˈlā-shən, ˌde-zə-\

Definition of desolation 

1 : the action of desolating the pitiful desolation and slaughter of World War I— D. F. Fleming

2a : grief, sadness … he put his trembling hands to his head, and gave a wild ringing scream, the cry of desolation.— George Eliot

b : loneliness

3 : devastation, ruin a scene of utter desolation

4 : barren wasteland looked out across the desolation

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Examples of desolation in a Sentence

She sank into a state of desolation and despair. photos that show the desolation of war

Recent Examples on the Web

The highlight, however, was exploring the Alabama Hills and Movie Road desolation of Lone Pine, which a century ago was the go-to place for Hollywood to film its early Westerns. Blake Snow,, "A SloCal road trip gives you a geographic, climatological super sampler," 20 May 2018 The controversy flared recently after the St. Johns River Water Management District approved an epic invasion by trucks to mend the former mine’s desolation. Kevin Spear,, "Florida plan for Lake County sand mine provokes residents' ire," 22 June 2018 The entire Mojave Desert is about 50,000 square miles, and its defining geographic characteristics are the Joshua trees, of course, and its otherworldly desolation. J. Weston Phippen, Outside Online, "People Keep Finding Bodies in Joshua Tree," 20 June 2018 Big empty lots dotting downtown, once symbols of desolation and downturn, are mines of opportunity for local developers. Jesse Dougherty,, "Las Vegas, shaken by tragedy, finds an unlikely rallying point: Its first-year NHL team," 27 May 2018 This is nothing new, presumably, but there is a fresh note of desolation running through her account. Stephen Metcalf, The New Yorker, "How Superheroes Made Movie Stars Expendable," 19 May 2018 Without the new strategies, those on the ground said, wildfires would have kept causing more desolation and costing more lives and money each year. Kate Irby, idahostatesman, "Spending bill that just passed includes long-sought funding fix for fighting wildfires | Idaho Statesman," 25 Mar. 2018 But there's no denying the essential sense of beauty and desolation in Sean Penn's filmic take on the story. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The 45 Best Travel Films of All Time," 11 May 2018 Pipe Spring National Monument Perched in the desolation of the Arizona Strip, this monument is an intriguing window into pioneer life. azcentral, "From climate to fry bread, 125 reasons to love Arizona," 15 May 2015

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for desolation

see desolate entry 1

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Last Updated

31 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for desolation

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

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More Definitions for desolation



English Language Learners Definition of desolation

: extreme sadness caused by loss or loneliness

: the condition of a place or thing that has been damaged in such a way that it is no longer suitable for people to live in : the state or condition of being desolate


des·o·la·tion | \ˌde-sə-ˈlā-shən \

Kids Definition of desolation

1 : the state of being deserted or ruined Photos showed the desolation left by the fire.

2 : sadness resulting from grief or loneliness

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