des·​o·​la·​tion | \ ˌde-sə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce desolation (audio) , 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
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 For baseball and soccer players competing in Asia and Europe, the in-game experience reflects the utter desolation of an outdoor stadium without fans. Bruce Jenkins,, "Fake crowd noise and imagery amplify sports’ desperation during coronavirus," 19 June 2020 The high desert setting can be heartwarming in its desolation and the views will impress travelers new to desert explorations. Bob Semerau, Outdoor Life, "Take an Overland Adventure to These Five Fishing Destinations," 4 June 2020 The journey runs right through the eye of desolation. James Parker, The Atlantic, "‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ Rebooted," 13 May 2020 The desolation along Kirkwood is stark compared to its usual nighttime bustle this time of year. Staff, Indianapolis Star, "Our Hoosier life: One day in Indiana under coronavirus," 23 Apr. 2020 The poet and short story writer Raymond Carver, son of a sawmill worker, grew up in Yakima and drew heavily on the town’s grittiness to enrich his stories of desolation. New York Times, "Running Thousands of Miles in Search of Yourself," 9 Mar. 2020 Its absence arrives at a time when all must be apart, only deepening the desolation derived from the coronavirus pandemic. Chandler Rome,, "For Astros, an opening day with other healing powers," 26 Mar. 2020 That isolation comes to define Miss Anthropocene, manifesting as restlessness, insomnia, darkness, desolation, want. Judy Berman, Time, "Grimes Tried to Make a Soundtrack for the End of the World. The Result Is Surprisingly Timid," 21 Feb. 2020 In Stojka’s paintings of this final camp, the coldblooded order of Auschwitz has given way to chaotic, even apocalyptic desolation. Jason Farago, New York Times, "The Survivor of Auschwitz Who Painted a Forgotten Genocide," 27 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for desolation

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for desolation

Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Desolation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for desolation


How to pronounce desolation (audio)

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 How to pronounce desolation (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on desolation

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for desolation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with desolation

Spanish Central: Translation of desolation

Nglish: Translation of desolation for Spanish Speakers

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