wil·​der·​ness | \ ˈwil-dər-nəs How to pronounce wilderness (audio) \

Definition of wilderness

1a(1) : a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings
(2) : an area essentially undisturbed by human activity together with its naturally developed life community
b : an empty or pathless area or region in remote wildernesses of space groups of nebulae are found— G. W. Gray †1960
c : a part of a garden devoted to wild growth
2 obsolete : wild or uncultivated state
3a : a confusing multitude or mass : an indefinitely great number or quantity I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys— William Shakespeare
b : a bewildering situation those moral wildernesses of civilized life— Norman Mailer

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Examples of wilderness in a Sentence

She enjoys hikes through the wilderness. released the wolf back into the wilderness
Recent Examples on the Web In nature documentaries such as A Perfect Planet and Planet Earth, the wilderness seems free of human influence, Emma Marris wrote in a recent story for The Atlantic. Kate Cray, The Atlantic, "The Books Briefing: The New Legacy of America’s Wilderness," 16 Apr. 2021 But wilderness isn't just what surrounds the domes. Jacqueline Kehoe, Travel + Leisure, "These Luxury Domes Are Perfect for Stargazing, Outdoor Adventures, and Romantic Getaways — and They're Near 2 Popular National Parks," 24 Mar. 2021 As history shows, mining jobs come and more often go, but the wilderness of the Boundary Waters has survived for thousands of years. Mark Dayton, Star Tribune, "Mark Dayton: Sulfide mining has no business near our Boundary Waters," 9 Mar. 2021 Whether your choice mode of transportation is hiking, mountain biking, or cross-country skiing, the West Virginia wilderness has something for everyone to explore. Zoe Denenberg, Southern Living, "Explore the Outdoors in Elkins, West Virginia," 8 Mar. 2021 Vardagen t-shirts and sweater sport graphic designs are based around the wilderness, among them their logo of a bear’s head. Cassell Ferere, Forbes, "Nordstrom X Varadgen Launch: How The Lux Retailer Is Betting On Graphic Tees," 25 Feb. 2021 In the original, this wilderness is beautiful but a little barren. Julie Muncy, Wired, "The New Demon's Souls Remake Tries Too Hard to Be Realistic," 24 Nov. 2020 Home is geography—and the many blessings wilderness brings. Eric Kruszewski, National Geographic, "What makes America so beautiful?," 20 Oct. 2020 On the other, a forest of thick evergreen pine trees reminded guests that the wilderness hung close. Sylvie Bigar, Washington Post, "In the hills of western Pennsylvania, a skeptical New Yorker gives glamping a try," 8 Oct. 2020

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

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

History and Etymology for wilderness

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

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Time Traveler for wilderness

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for wilderness

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wilderness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wilderness. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for wilderness



English Language Learners Definition of wilderness

: a wild and natural area in which few people live


wil·​der·​ness | \ ˈwil-dər-nəs How to pronounce wilderness (audio) \

Kids Definition of wilderness

: an area in its natural state in which few or no people live

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Comments on wilderness

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