Synonyms & Antonyms of desolate

(Entry 1 of 2)

2 sad from lack of companionship or separation from others
  • he was less desolate after adopting a rescue dog

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3 left unoccupied or unused
  • a desolate mining town that had its brief heyday more than a century ago

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4 producing inferior or only a small amount of vegetation
  • wild, desolate plains on which only the hardiest could survive

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Synonyms & Antonyms of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

to bring to a complete end the physical soundness, existence, or usefulness of
  • totally desolated the city with aerial bombs

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Frequently Asked Questions About desolate

How does the adjective desolate contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of desolate are bleak, cheerless, dismal, dreary, and gloomy. While all these words mean "devoid of cheer or comfort," desolate adds an element of utter remoteness or lack of human contact to any already disheartening aspect.

a desolate outpost

Where would bleak be a reasonable alternative to desolate?

The words bleak and desolate are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, bleak suggests chill, dull, and barren characteristics that utterly dishearten.

the bleak years of the depression

When is cheerless a more appropriate choice than desolate?

The words cheerless and desolate can be used in similar contexts, but cheerless stresses absence of anything cheering.

a drab and cheerless office

When might dismal be a better fit than desolate?

In some situations, the words dismal and desolate are roughly equivalent. However, dismal indicates extreme and utterly depressing gloominess.

dismal weather

When could dreary be used to replace desolate?

Although the words dreary and desolate have much in common, dreary, often interchangeable with dismal, emphasizes discouragement resulting from sustained dullness or futility.

a dreary job

When is it sensible to use gloomy instead of desolate?

The meanings of gloomy and desolate largely overlap; however, gloomy often suggests lack of hope or promise.

gloomy war news

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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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Cite this Entry

“Desolate.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on desolate

Dictionary: Definition of desolate

Nglish: Translation of desolate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of desolate for Arabic Speakers

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