wil·​der·​ness ˈwil-dər-nəs How to pronounce wilderness (audio)
: a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings
: an area essentially undisturbed by human activity together with its naturally developed life community
: an empty or pathless area or region
in remote wildernesses of space groups of nebulae are foundG. W. Gray †1960
: a part of a garden devoted to wild growth
obsolete : wild or uncultivated state
: a confusing multitude or mass : an indefinitely great number or quantity
I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeysWilliam Shakespeare
: a bewildering situation
those moral wildernesses of civilized lifeNorman Mailer

Examples of wilderness in a Sentence

She enjoys hikes through the wilderness. released the wolf back into the wilderness
Recent Examples on the Web But park visitors can one day expect to see much more beyond that wilderness at the iconic park in Central Florida – something more ambitious than just a ride overhaul or a retheming. Natasha Chen, CNN, 4 Apr. 2024 Until recently, only a dirt road through the wilderness led to the Pine Ridge Forest. Taylor McIntyre, Travel + Leisure, 3 Apr. 2024 Renewable energy is stuck out in the wilderness without enough transmission lines to bring it to population centers. Christopher Helman, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 Muir’s fingerprints are all over those years in the wilderness. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, 25 Mar. 2024 On the first two missions, DJ’s monitor showed the Ukrainian steppe below as his drone catapulted through the wilderness at upward of 60 miles per hour, strapped with roughly three pounds of high explosives and aimed at destroying Russian vehicles. Yurii Shyvala, New York Times, 12 Mar. 2024 In early 2017 while in the wilderness of MRSA, Barnett filed an AIR21 whistleblower complaint with The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Shawn Tully, Fortune, 16 Mar. 2024 Hoss will play Hanna, a doctor who, during the midst of an epidemic, goes into self-isolation in the mountain wilderness to protect herself and others. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Mar. 2024 The retreat, less than a 20-minute drive from Acadia National Park, delivers awe-striking wilderness with a touch of luxury across its 64 canvas tents. Stephanie Vermillion, Travel + Leisure, 7 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wilderness.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from wildern wild, from Old English wilddēoren of wild beasts

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Time Traveler
The first known use of wilderness was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near wilderness

Cite this Entry

“Wilderness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wilderness. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


wil·​der·​ness ˈwil-dər-nəs How to pronounce wilderness (audio)
: an area in which few people live that is not used for farming and is more or less in its natural state

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