Definition of desolate in US English:



Pronunciation /ˈdesələt//ˈdɛsələt/
  • 1(of a place) deserted of people and in a state of bleak and dismal emptiness.

    ‘a desolate moor’
    • ‘Finally, they stopped, seeing the sun almost touching the horizon as they now stood in a desolate area, a barren wasteland.’
    • ‘It's strange that someone who was born in London could feel at home in such a desolate place, but I like it.’
    • ‘She was now staring at a bleak and desolate landscape with nothing in the horizon but impassable mountains and valleys.’
    • ‘Fortunately on this day the place is desolate, devoid of any human sign.’
    • ‘But they are not being forced to stay in this desolate place against their will.’
    • ‘I hold true to my belief that there is beauty in even the most desolate places.’
    • ‘There lay the great, rolling mattress of the Moor, a vast and desolate place protected on all its sides by uprearing mountains.’
    • ‘John dropped me off where the road splits, a desolate place.’
    • ‘The smoke she'd seen, it came from here, this desolate place.’
    • ‘There was no need for guards at the wall because there was no way out and it was a desolate place outside.’
    • ‘Erik told them that such a meal if eaten regularly could sustain them across even the most arid and desolate lands.’
    • ‘Those poems are all the more welcome after walking through more desolate places.’
    • ‘A community has sprung from this desolate place.’
    • ‘The world sees the desert as a desolate land offering only hardship and discomfort.’
    • ‘Throughout December, the garden can be a desolate place, void of any horticultural flickering of life.’
    • ‘We can't begin to imagine how the geologists survived so long in this wild and desolate place.’
    • ‘But the Arctic challenge will be his biggest test, not only pulling his sled in the most desolate place in the world but without experienced guides to assist him along the way.’
    • ‘From what they could see it was a desolate place, huge walls of reddish rock on all sides of them, with trees growing thickly on top of the cliffs.’
    • ‘It was a barren, desolate place, but I could see a city in the distance.’
    • ‘The stars were twinkling in the night sky and a full moon gazed down on this desolate place waiting to become another new neighborhood.’
    barren, bleak, stark, bare, dismal, grim
    deserted, uninhabited, unoccupied, depopulated, forsaken, godforsaken, abandoned, unpeopled, untenanted, evacuated
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Feeling or showing misery, unhappiness, or loneliness.
      ‘I suddenly felt desolate and bereft’
      • ‘Eventually, Jasmine's more volatile emotions faded away of their own accord to be replaced by a feeling of desolate loneliness.’
      • ‘I did not ask him whether he was happy or unhappy - I know he is pretty desolate most of time.’
      • ‘I have never seen a more disconsolate and desolate group than the National Party after that speech.’
      • ‘Bereavement is feeling grief, feeling desolate, or feeling deprived after the loss of a loved one.’
      • ‘It doesn't leave you feeling desolate and destitute - it does give you hope.’
      • ‘Maybe I'm just finely tuned, but right now, he just looks so forlorn, so desolate, that I don't know which way to turn.’
      • ‘My fellow writers if my words have left you feeling a trifle depressed and desolate, cheer up.’
      • ‘Lyall stood in the middle of the yard, desolate and bereft, not sure what to do or think.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, although Herbert becomes desolate, he never despairs.’
      • ‘He missed his last session because of family commitments, this left me feeling desolate and undermined.’
      miserable, sad, unhappy, melancholy, gloomy, glum, despondent, comfortless, depressed, mournful, disconsolate
      View synonyms


[with object]
Pronunciation /ˈdɛsəˌleɪt//ˈdesəˌlāt/
  • 1Make (a place) bleakly and depressingly empty or bare.

    ‘the droughts that desolated the dry plains’
    • ‘Seaford was reported even in 1356 as ‘so desolated by plague and the chances of war that men living there are so few and poor that they cannot pay their taxes or defend the town’.’
    • ‘They carried out Richard's orders to the letter, his arches and calvary slaughtered all before them, burned villages, raided and took cattle herds and desolated the countryside.’
    • ‘Finally, in the far distance, the plague's desolating effects are full-blown: the city has been abandoned by the able-bodied, and civilized communication is no longer possible.’
    • ‘The Church defined heresy, and repressed it severely, as when Pope Innocent III launched the armed Crusade that brutally repressed the Albigenses and desolated much of southern France.’
    • ‘Amazingly, this visual effect neither turns the scene arty nor drains it of its excitement, but it does suggest that none of this violence has anything to do with the real violence that destroys people and desolates the earth.’
    devastate, ravage, ruin, leave desolate, make desolate, leave in ruins, destroy, wreck, lay waste to, wreak havoc on
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1usually be desolated Make (someone) feel utterly wretched and unhappy.
      ‘he was desolated by the deaths of his treasured friends’
      • ‘Oh dear me, it desolates me to inform you that I will not be able to update either of my stories for about ten days.’
      • ‘It made me realise how utterly desolate I had felt over the last few weeks.’
      • ‘He was pretty desolated so I left a supportive comment.’
      • ‘No fellow human being could be surprised, wrote Edward to King Alfonso as one father to another, if we were inwardly desolated by the sting of this bitter grief, for we are human, too.’
      • ‘The death of his only son while on service desolated him: ‘My grief has condemned me to hard labour for the rest of my life.’’
      dishearten, dispirit, daunt, distress, depress, make sad, make unhappy, sadden, cast down, deject, make miserable, make despondent, make gloomy, weigh down, oppress
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Latin desolatus ‘abandoned’, past participle of desolare, from de- ‘thoroughly’ + solus ‘alone’.