[der-uh-lik-shuh n]
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  1. deliberate or conscious neglect; negligence; delinquency: dereliction of duty.
  2. the act of abandoning something.
  3. the state of being abandoned.
  4. Law. a leaving dry of land by recession of the water line.

Origin of dereliction

1590–1600; < Latin dērelictiōn- (stem of dērelictiō) an abandoning, equivalent to dērelict(us) (see derelict) + -iōn- -ion

Synonyms for dereliction

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1. See neglect. 2. desertion. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for dereliction


  1. deliberate, conscious, or wilful neglect (esp in the phrase dereliction of duty)
  2. the act of abandoning or deserting or the state of being abandoned or deserted
  3. law
    1. accretion of dry land gained by the gradual receding of the sea or by a river changing its course
    2. the land thus left
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

Word Origin and History for dereliction

1590s, "abandonment" (formerly with a wider range than in modern use, e.g. of the sea withdrawing from the land), from Latin derelictionem (nominative derelictio), noun of action from past participle stem of derelinquere (see derelict). Meaning "failure in duty" is from c.1830.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper