Meaning of DESERT in English

I. des ‧ ert 1 W3 /ˈdezət $ -ərt/ BrE AmE noun

[ Date: 1100-1200 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: Late Latin desertum , from Latin desertus , past participle of deserere 'to desert' ]

1 . [uncountable and countable] a large area of land where it is always very dry, and there is a lot of sand:

the Sahara Desert

This area of the country is mostly desert.

in the desert

The plane crash-landed in the desert.

2 . [countable] a place where there is no activity or where nothing interesting happens:

The railroad yard was a desert now.

HINT : ► Do not confuse with dessert (=the sweet part of a meal).

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■ adjectives

▪ vast (=extremely big)

the vast Gobi desert in China

▪ empty (=with no buildings or people in it)

Outside the city there was nothing but empty desert.

▪ arid (=with very little rain)

Very little can grow in this arid desert.

▪ an inhospitable desert (=not easy to live or stay in)

The interior of the country is an inhospitable desert.

▪ a barren desert (=where no plants can grow)

Years of intensive farming have turned the area into a barren desert.

■ desert + NOUN

▪ a desert area/region

A hot dry wind blows from the desert areas of North Africa.

▪ a desert landscape

the flat desert landscape outside Kuwait

▪ desert country/land

Large parts of Oman are desert country.

▪ the desert sun/heat

Animals shelter from the desert sun during the day.

■ phrases

▪ a stretch/expanse of desert (=a very large area of desert)

In front of us was nothing but a vast expanse of desert.

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▪ sand a substance that forms beaches and deserts, or an area of this substance:

sunbathers lying on the sand


He could see several small figures out on the sands.

▪ beach an area of sand or small stones at the edge of the sea or a lake:

the island's golden beaches


How about a day at the beach?


a pebble beach

▪ desert a large area of land where it is always very hot and dry, and there is a lot of sand:

the Sahara desert


They crossed the desert by camel.

▪ dune/sand dune a hill made of sand near the sea or in the desert:

We went for a long walk along the dunes.


The dunes are home to a wide variety of birds and plants.

II. de ‧ sert 2 /dɪˈzɜːt $ -ˈzɜːrt/ BrE AmE verb

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: French ; Origin: déserter , from Latin desertus ; ⇨ ↑ desert 1 ]

1 . [transitive] to leave someone or something and no longer help or support them SYN abandon :

Helen was deserted by her husband.

Many of the party’s traditional voters deserted it at the last election.

The price rise caused many readers to desert the magazine.

desert somebody for somebody

He deserted her for another woman.

2 . [transitive] to leave a place so that it is completely empty SYN abandon :

The birds have deserted their nest.

3 . [intransitive] to leave the army, navy etc without permission:

Several hundred soldiers have deserted.

4 . [transitive] if a feeling, quality, or skill deserts you, you no longer have it, especially at a time when you need it:

Mike’s confidence seemed to have deserted him.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.