American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A barren or desolate area, especially:
- n. A dry, often sandy region of little rainfall, extreme temperatures, and sparse vegetation.
- n. A region of permanent cold that is largely or entirely devoid of life.
- n. An apparently lifeless area of water.
- n. An empty or forsaken place; a wasteland: a cultural desert.
- n. Archaic A wild, uncultivated, and uninhabited region.
- adj. Of, relating to, characteristic of, or inhabiting a desert: desert fauna.
- adj. Barren and uninhabited; desolate: a desert island.
- n. Something that is deserved or merited, especially a punishment. Often used in the plural: They got their just deserts when the scheme was finally uncovered.
- n. The state or fact of deserving reward or punishment.
- v. To leave empty or alone; abandon.
- v. To withdraw from, especially in spite of a responsibility or duty; forsake: deserted her friend in a time of need.
- v. To abandon (a military post, for example) in violation of orders or an oath.
- v. To forsake one's duty or post, especially to be absent without leave from the armed forces with no intention of returning.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- To abandon, either in a good or a bad sense; forsake; hence, to cast off or prove recreant to: as, to desert a falling house; a deserted village; to desert a friend or a cause.
- To leave without permission; forsake; escape from, as the service in which one is engaged, in violation of duty: as, to desert an army; to desert one's colors; to desert a ship.
- To quit a service or post without permission; run away: as, to desert from the army.
- Deserted; uncultivated; waste; barren; uninhabited.
- Pertaining to or belonging to a desert; inhabiting a desert: as, the desert folk.
- n. A desert place or region; a waste; a wilderness; specifically, in geography, a region of considerable extent which is almost if not quite destitute of vegetation, and hence uninhabited, chiefly on account of an insufficient supply of rain: as, the desert of Sahara; the Great American Desert. The presence of large quantities of movable sand on the surface adds to the desert character of a region. The word is chiefly and ahnost exclusively used with reference to certain regions in Arabia and northern Africa and others lying in central Asia. (See
steppe.) The only region in North America to which the word is applied is the Great American Desert, a tract of country south and west of Great Salt Lake, once occupied by the waters of that lake when they extended over a much larger area than they now occupy. The name Great American Desert was originally given to the unexplored region lying beyond the Mississippi, without any special designation of its limits. Colonel Dodge, U. S. A., says in “The Plains of the Great West” (1877): ”When I was a schoolboy my map of the United States showed between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains a long and broad white blotch, upon which was printed in small capitals ‘The Great American Desert—Unexplored.’ … What was then regarded as a desert supports, in some portions, thriving populations.” In Fremont's report the Great Basin is frequently spoken of as “the Desert.” It is also called the Great Desert Basin.
- n. = Syn, Wilderness, Desert. Strictly, a wilderness is a wild, unreclaimed region, uninhabited and uncultivated, while a desert is largely uncultivable and uninhabitable owing to lack of moisture. A wilderness may be full of luxuriant vegetation. In a great majority of the places where desert occurs in the authorized version of the Bible, the revised version changes it to wilderness.
- n. A deserving; that which makes one deserving of reward or punishment; merit or demerit; good conferred, or evil inflicted, which merits an equivalent return: as, to reward or punish men according to their deserts. [When used absolutely, without contrary indication, the word always has a good sense.]
- n. That which is deserved; reward or penalty merited.
- n. Synonyms Desert, Merit, Worth. Desert expresses most and worth least of the thought or expectation of reward. None of them suggests an actual claim. He is a man of great worth or excellence; intellectual worth; moral worth; the merits of the piece are small; he is not likely to get his deserts.
- n. See dessert.
- n. Specifically — In phytogeography, one of the three principal types of Schimper's climatic formations, the result of excessive drought or cold. In desert all surviving vegetation is stunted and the difference between woodland and grass-land (the other two grand types) is obliterated.
- n. usually in plural That which is deserved or merited; a just punishment or reward
- n. A barren area of land or desolate terrain, especially one with little water or vegetation; a wasteland.
- n. figuratively Any barren place or situation.
- adj. Abandoned, deserted, or uninhabited; usually of a place.
- v. To leave (anything that depends on one's presence to survive, exist, or succeed), especially when contrary to a promise or obligation; to abandon; to forsake.
- v. To leave one's duty or post, especially to leave a military or naval unit without permission.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. That which is deserved; the reward or the punishment justly due; claim to recompense, usually in a good sense; right to reward; merit.
- n. A deserted or forsaken region; a barren tract incapable of supporting population, as the vast sand plains of Asia and Africa which are destitute of moisture and vegetation.
- n. A tract, which may be capable of sustaining a population, but has been left unoccupied and uncultivated; a wilderness; a solitary place.
- adj. Of or pertaining to a desert; forsaken; without life or cultivation; unproductive; waste; barren; wild; desolate; solitary.
- v. To leave (especially something which one should stay by and support); to leave in the lurch; to abandon; to forsake; -- implying blame, except sometimes when used of
- v. (Mil.) To abandon (the service) without leave; to forsake in violation of duty; to abscond from
- v. To abandon a service without leave; to quit military service without permission, before the expiration of one's term; to abscond.
- v. desert (a cause, a country or an army), often in order to join the opposing cause, country, or army
- n. arid land with little or no vegetation
- v. leave behind
- v. leave someone who needs or counts on you; leave in the lurch
- From French déserter, from Late Latin desertare, from Latin desertus, from deserere ("abandon") (Wiktionary)
- Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin dēsertum, from neuter past participle of dēserere, to desert; see desert3.Middle English, from Old French deserte, from feminine past participle of deservir, to deserve; see deserve.French déserter, from Late Latin dēsertāre, frequentative of Latin dēserere, to abandon : dē-, de- + serere, to join; see ser-2 in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“It is true that in almost every desert there are these sandy plains, yet are there other parts of its surface of a far different character, equally deserving the name of _desert_.”
“That's not to say I'm perfect – I've acquired the nickname 'desert cactus' because I hardly drink during training, which is something I need to work on.”
“The term desert is far more true because wasteland is abhorrently incorrect.”
“My idea of a desert is an eternal agony, plotted by the fury of the aridity, by the implacable confusion of a sun which, trampled by the wind, melts with the sand, until there is no other landscape than the sand dominating the sky, the ground, the wind.”
“I don't mean to suggest that navigating the desert is as simple as 1-2-3.”
“Your points are well-made, and your goodwill toward those losers in the desert is admirable.”
“They said -- and they said it with intolerable condescension and patronage -- that for the sake of his record he might make one little speech upon the subject before a few people out in what they called the desert, and he accepted the concession.”
“‘If you are determined to look at what you call desert alone, I would name Lord Drummond.’”
“If you are determined to look to what you call desert alone, I would name Lord Drummond.”
“This is what I call a desert; within it each church is an oasis; but how will they ever be strong enough to evangelise their region without outside help?”
These user-created lists contain the word ‘desert’.
Similar words meaning different things
Words in the Bible evoking biblical stories or with special spiritual meaning. Proper names have been reduced to the minimum.
In 2007, wired weird started a marvelous list:
Two words, one spelling, two pronunciations
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Words you can type with one hand--if you learned how to type formally. Hunt-and-peck method doesn't count. ;-) I'm keeping it to five or more letters to avoid an excessively lengthy list.
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