desolate

adjective
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-lət How to pronounce desolate (audio) , ˈde-zə- \

Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : devoid of inhabitants and visitors : deserted a desolate abandoned town
2 : joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful through or as if through separation from a loved one a desolate widow
3a : showing the effects of abandonment and neglect : dilapidated a desolate old house
b : barren, lifeless a desolate landscape
c : devoid of warmth, comfort, or hope : gloomy desolate memories

desolate

verb
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-ˌlāt How to pronounce desolate (audio) , ˈde-zə- \
desolated; desolating

Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make desolate:
a : to deprive of inhabitants The neighboring towns were desolated.
b : to lay waste desolating the city with bombs
c : forsake their desolated families back home
d : to make wretched

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Other Words from desolate

Adjective

desolately adverb
desolateness noun

Verb

desolater or desolator \ ˈde-​sə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce desolate (audio) , ˈde-​zə-​ \ noun
desolatingly \ ˈde-​sə-​ˌlā-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce desolate (audio) , ˈde-​zə-​ \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for desolate

Adjective

alone, solitary, lonely, lonesome, lone, forlorn, desolate mean isolated from others. alone stresses the objective fact of being by oneself with slighter notion of emotional involvement than most of the remaining terms. everyone needs to be alone sometimes solitary may indicate isolation as a chosen course glorying in the calm of her solitary life but more often it suggests sadness and a sense of loss. left solitary by the death of his wife lonely adds to solitary a suggestion of longing for companionship. felt lonely and forsaken lonesome heightens the suggestion of sadness and poignancy. an only child often leads a lonesome life lone may replace lonely or lonesome but typically is as objective as alone. a lone robin pecking at the lawn forlorn stresses dejection, woe, and listlessness at separation from one held dear. a forlorn lost child desolate implies inconsolable grief at loss or bereavement. desolate after her brother's death

dismal, dreary, bleak, gloomy, cheerless, desolate mean devoid of cheer or comfort. dismal indicates extreme and utterly depressing gloominess. dismal weather dreary, often interchangeable with dismal, emphasizes discouragement resulting from sustained dullness or futility. a dreary job bleak suggests chill, dull, and barren characteristics that utterly dishearten. the bleak years of the depression gloomy often suggests lack of hope or promise. gloomy war news cheerless stresses absence of anything cheering. a drab and cheerless office desolate adds an element of utter remoteness or lack of human contact to any already disheartening aspect. a desolate outpost

What is the word origin of desolate?

Adjective

Something that is desolate is literally or figuratively "abandoned," so you probably won't be surprised to learn that "desolate" has its roots in the Latin verb desolare, meaning "to abandon." The Middle English word desolat comes from the past participle of "desolare," which in turn combines the prefix de- and the adjective solus, meaning "alone." "Desolate" is not at all alone in this family of words. Some other familiar descendants of "solus" include "solitary," "sole," "solo," "solitude," and "soliloquy."

Examples of desolate in a Sentence

Adjective a desolate house abandoned many years ago destitute and desolate since her husband walked out on her Verb totally desolated the city with aerial bombs
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Jezero, scientists could now see, wasn’t always dry and desolate. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, 7 Oct. 2021 Brothers and tikiholics Bob and Jack Thornton opened the Mai-Kai on Dec. 26, 1956, on a then-desolate stretch of Federal Highway for $300,000, said to be the most expensive restaurant built that year. Phillip Valys, sun-sentinel.com, 28 Sep. 2021 Macbeth’s betrayals are part and parcel of a desolate void — endless white beaches, lonely campsites, and empty castles whose bare walls and roofs are open to the heavens and to the bitter winds. Kyle Smith, National Review, 24 Sep. 2021 The other takes place 35 years later: The Foundation is preserving various technologies and information while the Warden, aka Salvor Hardin, patrols their desolate outpost. Nina Metz, chicagotribune.com, 24 Sep. 2021 To find their ingenious killer, Holmes and Watson must brave the desolate moors before a family curse dooms the newest heir. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, 19 Sep. 2021 From there, hikers can get a great view of Spirit Lake and Mount Adams to the left, with an amazing view of Mount St. Helens straight ahead and the desolate pumice plans to the right – none of which was visible through the fog. oregonlive, 15 Sep. 2021 There were also places in the north of Russia—petrol extraction stations that are extremely desolate and need an entire week to travel there. Ewan Wilson, Wired, 15 Sep. 2021 What if one of us tests positive — will that person end up alone in some dark and dreary quarantine building in a desolate part of Iceland? Colleen Sullivan, Travel + Leisure, 13 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For eight weeks, the streets of Paris were empty of traffic and silent, the sidewalks desolate, all but essential food stores closed. Rachel Donadio, The New York Review of Books, 23 July 2020 For eight weeks, the streets of Paris were empty of traffic and silent, the sidewalks desolate, all but essential food stores closed. Rachel Donadio, The New York Review of Books, 23 July 2020 For eight weeks, the streets of Paris were empty of traffic and silent, the sidewalks desolate, all but essential food stores closed. Rachel Donadio, The New York Review of Books, 23 July 2020 But by summer’s end, the early excitement had died down and many sidewalk tables were languishing unfilled, leaving neighborhood streets desolate rather than boisterous, North End restaurateurs said then. BostonGlobe.com, 28 July 2021 Marville traced the urban growth of Paris, from ramshackle construction sites to burgeoning neighborhoods, desolate outskirts and how quickly Paris modernized in the mid 19th century. Nadja Sayej, Forbes, 7 June 2021 Tourism in the city has dropped since the coronavirus pandemic began, leaving New York’s normally busy shopping districts desolate. Emma Colton, Washington Examiner, 12 Aug. 2020 For eight weeks, the streets of Paris were empty of traffic and silent, the sidewalks desolate, all but essential food stores closed. Rachel Donadio, The New York Review of Books, 24 June 2020 Night clubs were closed, restaurants abandoned, shopping malls desolate. Karl Taro Greenfeld, The New Yorker, 17 Apr. 2020

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for desolate

Adjective

Middle English desolat, desolate "deserted, lonely, distressed," borrowed from Latin dēsōlātus, past participle of dēsōlāre "to leave all alone, forsake, empty of inhabitants," from dē- de- + -sōlāre, verbal derivative of sōlus "lone, acting without a partner, lonely, deserted," of uncertain origin

Verb

Middle English desolaten (in past participle desolatid "deserted, ruined"), borrowed from Latin dēsōlātus, past participle of dēsōlāre "to leave all alone, forsake, empty of inhabitants" — more at desolate entry 1

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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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Dictionary Entries Near desolate

desoil

desolate

desolation

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Last Updated

18 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Desolate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/desolate. Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for desolate

desolate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: lacking the people, plants, animals, etc., that make people feel welcome in a place
: very sad and lonely especially because someone you love has died or left

desolate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (someone) feel very sad and lonely for a long time
: to damage (a place) in such a way that it is no longer suitable for people to live in

desolate

adjective
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-lət How to pronounce desolate (audio) \

Kids Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having no comfort or companionship : lonely
2 : left neglected or in ruins a desolate old house
3 : without signs of life : barren a dry, desolate land
4 : cheerless, gloomy She put aside desolate thoughts.

Other Words from desolate

desolately adverb

desolate

verb
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-ˌlāt How to pronounce desolate (audio) \
desolated; desolating

Kids Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to ruin or leave without comfort or companionship

More from Merriam-Webster on desolate

Nglish: Translation of desolate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of desolate for Arabic Speakers

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