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[dih-zur-shuh n] /dɪˈzɜr ʃən/
the act of deserting or the state of being deserted.
Law. willful abandonment, especially of one's spouse without consent, in violation of legal or moral obligations.
an act of leaving military service or duty without the intention of returning.
Compare AWOL.
Origin of desertion
1585-95; < Late Latin dēsertiōn- (stem of dēsertiō) < Latin dēsert(us) (see desert1) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
predesertion, noun
self-desertion, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for desertion
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But, talk as he might, in Johnny Rosenfeld's loyal heart there was no thought of desertion.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • Should she desert her father, and could that desertion be a virtue?

    Leila, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Be mine, and wholly mine—or never, never will I survive your desertion!

  • The greatest wrong you can inflict upon me will be inflicted by your desertion.

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • How many guesses have you made as to the cause of your desertion to-day?'

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
British Dictionary definitions for desertion


the act of deserting or abandoning or the state of being deserted or abandoned
(law) wilful abandonment, esp of one's spouse or children, without consent and in breach of obligations
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for desertion

1590s, from Middle French désertion (early 15c.), from Late Latin desertionem (nominative desertio) "a forsaking, abandoning," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin deserere (see desert (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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