[des.ert] n [ME, fr. OF, fr. LL desertum, fr. L, neut. of desertus, pp. of deserere to desert, fr. de- + serere to join together--more at series] (13c) 1 a: arid barren land; esp: a tract incapable of supporting any considerable population without an artificial water supply b: an area of water apparently devoid of life
2. archaic: a wild uninhabited and uncultivated tract
3: a desolate or forbidding area "lost in a ~ of doubt" -- de.ser.tic adj
des.ert adj (13c) 1: desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied "a ~ island"
2: of or relating to a desert 3 archaic: forsaken de.sert n [ME deserte, fr. OF, fr. fem. of desert, pp. of deservir to deserve] (13c) 1: the quality or fact of deserving reward or punishment
2: deserved reward or punishment--usu. used in plural "got their just ~s"
3: excellence, worth de.sert vb [F deserter, fr. LL desertare, freq. of L deserere] vt (1603) 1: to withdraw from or leave usu. without intent to return
2. a: to leave in the lurch "~ a friend in trouble" b: to abandon (military service) without leave ~ vi: to quit one's post, allegiance, or service without leave or justification; esp: to abandon military duty without leave and without intent to return syn see abandon -- de.sert.er n