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[adjective des-uh-lit; verb des-uh-leyt] /adjective ˈdɛs ə lɪt; verb ˈdɛs əˌleɪt/
barren or laid waste; devastated:
a treeless, desolate landscape.
deprived or destitute of inhabitants; deserted; uninhabited.
solitary; lonely:
a desolate place.
having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.
dreary; dismal; gloomy:
desolate prospects.
verb (used with object), desolated, desolating.
to lay waste; devastate.
to deprive of inhabitants; depopulate.
to make disconsolate.
to forsake or abandon.
Origin of desolate
1325-75; Middle English < Latin dēsōlātus forsaken, past participle of dēsōlāre, equivalent to dē- de- + sōlāre to make lonely, derivative of sōlus sole1; see -ate1
Related forms
desolately, adverb
desolateness, noun
desolater, desolator, noun
quasi-desolate, adjective
quasi-desolately, adverb
Can be confused
desolate, dissolute.
1. ravaged. 2. desert. 4. lonesome, lost; miserable, wretched, woebegone, woeful, inconsolable, cheerless, hopeless. 6. ravage, ruin. 8. sadden, depress. 9. desert.
4. delighted, happy.
Synonym Study
4.Desolate, disconsolate, forlorn suggest one who is in a sad and wretched condition. The desolate person is deprived of human consolation, relationships, or presence: desolate and despairing. The disconsolate person is aware of the efforts of others to console and comfort, but is unable to be relieved or cheered by them: She remained disconsolate even in the midst of friends. The forlorn person is lost, deserted, or forsaken by friends: wretched and forlorn in a strange city. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for desolateness
Historical Examples
  • The desolateness of the poor girls had perhaps been greater than their grief.

    Two Penniless Princesses Charlotte M. Yonge
  • Why does not Dorothea give the real reason for her desolateness?

  • Its newness and desolateness of appearance revolted me, just then.

    Basil Wilkie Collins
  • Meg felt lonely and blank; and pity mingled with her desolateness.

    Meg's Friend

    Alice Abigail Corkran
  • There was a kind of desolateness in our life, though we did not understand it at the time.

    The Two Sides of the Shield Charlotte M. Yonge
  • It was a young horse, seeking in its desolateness the neighbourhood of a human being.

    Mary Bjornstjerne Bjornson
  • His desolateness at an hotel or boarding-house is proverbial.

  • "Which art in heaven—" but heaven was so far away and looked so cruelly serene to her in her desolateness and danger!

    The Girl from Montana

    Grace Livingston Hill
  • The gulls seemed uneasy, in spite of the desolateness of the broad expanse of heaving swell.

    The North Pacific Willis Boyd Allen
  • The weirdness of the sound and the desolateness of the surroundings produced peculiar sensations upon the listener.

British Dictionary definitions for desolateness


adjective (ˈdɛsəlɪt)
uninhabited; deserted
made uninhabitable; laid waste; devastated
without friends, hope, or encouragement; forlorn, wretched, or abandoned
gloomy or dismal; depressing
verb (transitive) (ˈdɛsəˌleɪt)
to deprive of inhabitants; depopulate
to make barren or lay waste; devastate
to make wretched or forlorn
to forsake or abandon
Derived Forms
desolater, desolator, noun
desolately, adverb
desolateness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin dēsōlāre to leave alone, from de- + sōlāre to make lonely, lay waste, from sōlus alone
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 desolateness



late 14c., from desolate (adj.). Related: Desolated; desolating.



mid-14c., "without companions," also "uninhabited," from Latin desolatus, past participle of desolare "leave alone, desert," from de- "completely" (see de-) + solare "make lonely," from solus "alone" (see sole (adj.)). Sense of "joyless" is 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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