Definition of wilderness in English:



  • 1usually in singular An uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.

    • ‘I saw sequoias as tall and straight as skyscrapers, celestial waterfalls and a wilderness stretching to unseen horizons.’
    • ‘Because we were suppose to be barbarians running wild in the wilderness?’
    • ‘When Mohammed opened the wilderness of the Arabian desert he carried the Koran in one hand and a sword in the other.’
    • ‘Isle Royale is an island wilderness supporting packs of wolves and herds of moose and is home to many rare plant species.’
    • ‘Wild rice was the name because of the resemblance to rice paddies and because it was just growing wild in the wilderness.’
    • ‘At the time he was sixteen years old and part of a survey party that followed the Shenandoah River into the wilderness.’
    • ‘This does not necessarily mean going to some deserted place in the wilderness.’
    • ‘But why do people come to Knock instead of sampling the serenity of Lough Derg or the wilderness of Croagh Patrick?’
    • ‘In the wilderness, climbers ascend frozen waterfalls and ice on mountains.’
    • ‘It is a desert wilderness, but the separation and the fear are the same.’
    • ‘Incredibly, 250 years ago the Lake District was seen as an ugly and inhospitable wilderness.’
    • ‘There are different terrain types to consider if fighting out in the wilderness.’
    • ‘That power isn't created by man but it's something that you see in a river in a mountain range, in a wilderness, in a wild lynx or mink and that is something that is so sacred.’
    • ‘Villages of mud huts dot the hillsides and oases of green amid the barren wilderness provide sanctuary for its denizens.’
    • ‘This is what they claim they are doing in the wilderness in their desert camps.’
    • ‘Ahead is a barren land of lochans and beautifully-ridged mountains rising steeply from an uninhabited wilderness.’
    • ‘Who knows what might happen out there in the wilderness of desert?’
    • ‘Environmental campaigners are now battling in the courts to save the desert wilderness from further destruction.’
    • ‘Then they were released into the wilderness at the mountain's summit.’
    • ‘Carver starts out at a disadvantage, but over time becomes uniquely suited to the tropical wilderness.’
    wilds, wastes, uninhabited region, inhospitable region, uncultivated region, badlands
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A neglected or abandoned area.
      ‘the garden had become a wilderness of weeds and bushes’
      • ‘It is very sad to see what was one of the best pitch & putt courses in the country turn into a wilderness.’
      • ‘To the right is a wilderness, abandoned to brambles, ground elder, bindweed and buddleia.’
      • ‘A lot of farmers went out of business, some of the more marginal farming areas reverted to wilderness.’
      • ‘Ponies play a crucial role in the area's ecology by eating vast amounts of vegetation and preventing the landscape turning into a wilderness.’
      • ‘But householders in the Harwich Road area say their neighbourhood is becoming a wilderness.’
      wasteland, neglected area, abandoned area, no-man's-land
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A position of disfavour, especially in a political context.
      ‘the man who led the Labour Party out of the wilderness’
      as modifier ‘his wilderness years’
      • ‘An immediate search is launched for a charismatic leader who can end the wilderness years.’
      • ‘Those long years in the political wilderness were traumatized by discord and discontent.’
      • ‘Churchill spent most of the 1930s in the political wilderness opposing the disastrous appeasement of Hitler.’
      • ‘I should be used to being out in the political wilderness on these issues.’
      • ‘Serious infighting resulted, and the Democratic Party entered a wilderness period that it hasn't recovered from.’
      • ‘Progressives would profit more by studying the way the New Right responded to life in the political wilderness.’
      • ‘Coun Black, a former mayor, was forced to stand down seven years ago and spent years in the political wilderness following sleaze allegations.’
      • ‘Labour is beyond reform and Respect is fated to remain in the political wilderness.’
      • ‘Is the Scottish Conservative leader about to take the long cab journey into the political wilderness?’
      • ‘Cast into the political wilderness, he grew a beard and brooded upon his fate.’
      • ‘We hope that he has learned some valuable lessons during his three years in the political wilderness.’
      • ‘And, if we don't send that message, I fear that we will be in the political wilderness for a long time.’
      • ‘He had used his time in the political wilderness to cultivate the party's grass-roots.’
      • ‘The meeting took place after it was indicated to the Down Democrat that the UDA wanted to come in from the political wilderness.’
      • ‘The court decision places him in the political wilderness until April 2008.’
      • ‘Lloyd George after 1922 and Winston Churchill before 1939 spent long periods in the political wilderness.’
      • ‘This is one of the primary reasons why lost cause situations deserve greater attention and should not be left in the political wilderness.’
      • ‘In this capacity he was given charge only of the Royal Navy, a position that, after ten years in the political wilderness, he was content to accept.’
      • ‘Eleven years in the political wilderness had freed me from ordinary party antagonisms.’
      • ‘Rising from political wilderness, the Sonia-led Congress showed that it had the grit and gumption to be an engine of change.’


  • a voice in the wilderness

    • An unheeded advocate of reform (see Matt. 3:3 etc.).

      • ‘In the absence of such a move, calls for a united front will remain a voice in the wilderness.’
      • ‘Time will tell whether Spurlock's capable of arriving at conclusions rather than telegraphing them in advance, but for now, he's a voice in the wilderness.’
      • ‘‘He represents the old-fashioned romantic image of a voice in the wilderness,’ he says.’
      • ‘If this then marks him as a voice in the wilderness, so be it.’
      • ‘‘We can achieve things with that approach but we need one united voice otherwise we are a voice in the wilderness,’ Mr Daly added.’
      • ‘Wesbury is chief economist at GKST, and has been a voice in the wilderness for the past couple of years, pointing out the undercurrent of strength in the domestic U.S. Economy.’
      • ‘He is very far from being a voice in the wilderness.’
      • ‘For I say to you, I am as a voice in the wilderness, and I preach the name of a movie as yet unreleased; a movie whose coming will shake the world, will change the course of history.’
      • ‘My voice may be a voice in the wilderness, but there is hope with AIR!’
      • ‘He may have at times been a voice in the wilderness, but he was my voice.’


Old English wildēornes ‘land inhabited only by wild animals’, from wild dēor ‘wild deer’ + -ness.