Definition of wilderness in English:



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

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


  • a voice in the wilderness

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

      • ‘He is very far from being 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My voice may be a voice in the wilderness, but there is hope with AIR!’
      • ‘‘He represents the old-fashioned romantic image of a voice in the wilderness,’ he says.’
      • ‘‘We can achieve things with that approach but we need one united voice otherwise we are a voice in the wilderness,’ Mr Daly added.’
      • ‘If this then marks him as a voice in the wilderness, so be it.’
      • ‘He may have at times been a voice in the wilderness, but he was my voice.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the absence of such a move, calls for a united front will remain a voice in the wilderness.’


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