Meaning of DESERT in English

I. des·ert ˈdezə(r)]t, usu ]d.+V noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin desertum, from Latin, neuter of desertus, past participle of deserere to desert, from de- + serere to join together — more at series


a. archaic : a wild uninhabited and uncultivated tract : a desolate unoccupied plain or coast or pathless woodland : wilderness , waste

b. : any of the formerly unsettled regions of the United States between the Mississippi river and the Rocky mountains thought to be arid and uninhabitable


a. : a region in which the vegetation is so scanty as to be incapable of supporting any considerable population (as a region perpetually cold or covered with snow or ice or a region located in the interior of a continent and characterized by scanty rainfall especially of less than 10 inches annually)

b. : a more or less barren tract incapable of supporting any considerable population without an artificial water supply

c. : an area of an ocean believed to be devoid of marine life

3. : a secluded place for secret worship by the Huguenots during years 1715-1802 when Protestantism was under proscription in France

4. : a desolating or forbidding prospect (as from pathless emptiness, bleak unrelieved changelessness or monotony, futility of effort, or destitution of mental or spiritual animation or stimulation)

tiny fingers lost in an immense desert of darkness — Beverley Nichols

lost in a desert of doubt

eagles still soar between the summit of Parnassus and the Corinthian gulf, but they look down upon a desert of human history — Mark Van Doren

II. des·ert “, in sense 1 usually like desert III adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Latin desertus

1. archaic : deserted

the boat deck was utterly desert — Waldo Frank


a. : desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied : inhospitable

so desert a country as the Highlands of Scotland — Adam Smith

b. : uncultivated and uninhabited : barren like a desert

one could scarcely find a more desert tract for a settler

3. : having its habitat in a desert

desert flora and fauna

4. : peculiar to or adapted to life in a desert

sturdy desert boots

III. de·sert də̇ˈzər]t, dēˈ-, -zə̄], -zəi|, usu ]d.+V\ noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English deserte, from Old French, from feminine of desert (past participle of deservir to deserve), from Latin deservitus, past participle of deservire to serve zealously — more at deserve


a. : the quality or fact of being worthy of or deserving of rewards or recompense or of requital or punishment

the concept of desert is essentially indefinable except in terms of existing practices and ideas — G.H.Sabine

b. : a complex of actions calling for such returns

in the midst is seated Justice to award to each according to his desert — Carleton Brown


a. : reward or punishment deserved or earned by one's qualities or acts

not weighing our deserts but pardoning our offenses — Missale Romanum

by dint of much caballing and much dwelling upon his own deserts he triumphed over his enemies — Virginia Woolf

b. deserts plural : awards due for superior or inferior qualities of art or workmanship

book reviewers … frequently praise the first venture of a writer beyond its just deserts — Harrison Smith

3. : worthiness or excellence of character as adduced by a good course of conduct

he won the appointment on grounds of desert rather than through family prestige

Synonyms: see due

IV. desert verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: French déserter, from Late Latin desertare, from Latin desertus, past participle of deserere to desert — more at desert I

transitive verb

1. : to withdraw from or leave permanently or less often temporarily (as a place) : quit

farmers continue to desert the land to take up factory work

the smile deserting his broad face — T.B.Costain

phrases which never desert the memory — T.S.Eliot


a. : to turn away from (what has previously engaged one) especially by withdrawing support or disrupting bonds of attachment or duty : reject in order to take up something else : abandon

who, 30 years before, upon being deserted by her lover had taken to her bed — Margaret Deland

coming at last to desert the Prohibition party

he deserted prose for the compensating rhythms of poetry — Tyrus Hillway

b. : to leave behind or give up (as a person) — used with to

forced to desert the rest of the miners to their fate

c. : to renounce marital relations by quitting the company of (one's spouse)


a. : to break away from or break off association with (some matter involving legal or moral obligation or some object of loyalty) : betray

not propose to desert the 100-year-old Monroe Doctrine — A.H.Vandenberg †1951

would be a calamity if these sciences deserted the ideal of accurate and verifiable systematic knowledge for its own sake — M.R.Cohen

b. : to abandon (military service) without leave : forsake in violation of duty

guilty of deserting his fellow soldiers

4. : to drop away or escape from (a person) usually causing a distinct sense of loss or discomfiture : leave in the lurch : forsake

all sense of courtly etiquette deserting him — T.B.Costain

intransitive verb

1. : to quit one's post, leader, or service without leave

the native guides quietly deserted during the night

the more liberal members of the party began deserting

2. : to change one's allegiance

he gave fear of a return of Nazism as the reason for his deserting to the Communists


a. : to quit military service without right

determined to desert

: absent oneself without leave from proper post, station, or duty with the intent to remain away permanently

b. : to leave one's proper place to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service : accept appointment or enlist in the same or another armed service without first being regularly separated : enter a foreign armed service without authorization by the United States

c. of an officer : to quit one's post without leave and with intent to remain away permanently after tendering one's resignation but before due notice of acceptance of it has been received

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.