a region so arid because of little rainfall that it supports only sparse and widely spaced vegetation or no vegetation at all: The Sahara is a vast sandy desert.
any area in which few forms of life can exist because of lack of water, permanent frost, or absence of soil.
an area of the ocean in which it is believed no marine life exists.
(formerly) any unsettled area between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains thought to be unsuitable for human habitation.
any place lacking in something: The town was a cultural desert.
of, relating to, or like a desert:a desert landscape.
occurring, living, or flourishing in the desert: a desert tribe; a desert palm.
designed or suitable for wear in the desert, as cool, protective clothing: a big, wide-brimmed desert hat.
— Desert : A novel by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2008. The book, first published in French in 1980, was translated into English in 2009.
— Operation Desert Storm: An air campaign by the U.S. during the 1990–91 Gulf War.
— Conflict: Desert Storm: The first in the Conflict series of video games by game developers Pivotal Games. Released in 2002, it is set during the 1990–91 Gulf War.
- de·ser·tic [dih-zur-tik], /dɪˈzɜr tɪk/, adjective
- des·ert·like, adjective
- desert , dessert
Other definitions for desert (2 of 3)
to leave (a person, place, etc.) without intending to return, especially in violation of a duty, promise, or the like: He deserted his wife.
(of military personnel) to leave or run away from (service, duty, etc.) with the intention of never returning:Terrified of the approaching battle, he deserted his post just before dawn.
to fail (someone) at a time of need: None of his friends had deserted him.
to forsake or leave one's duty, obligations, etc. (sometimes followed by from, to, etc.): Many deserted during the food shortage.
(of military personnel) to leave service, duty, etc., with no intention of returning: Troops were deserting to the enemy.
- de·sert·ed·ly, adverb
- de·sert·ed·ness, noun
- de·sert·er, noun
Other definitions for desert (3 of 3)
Usually deserts . reward or punishment that is deserved: Death was his desert.
the state or fact of deserving reward or punishment.
the state or condition of being worthy, as in character or behavior.
- deserts , desserts
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use desert in a sentence
Matthews calls the Yakima Valley site in Washington state “desert in the shadow of Mount Rainier.”How does a crop’s environment shape a food’s smell and taste? | Carolyn Beans | September 10, 2020 | Science News
By late March, when ski season would normally be in full swing, hotels were empty, streets deserted.How a Swiss Ski Resort Was Ravaged by Typhoid and Survived | Daniel Malloy | September 9, 2020 | Ozy
It was hard to miss the dramatic, toothy peaks that spike up in the middle of the Nevada desert just south of that route.
State government officials have not lifted the mandate that would allow them to open indoors, so they decided to take their operation outside — into the desert.Clean, Lean, Mean Machines: 5 Super COVID-Safe Gyms | Joshua Eferighe | August 28, 2020 | Ozy
Earth is thought to have been born in an interplanetary desert, too close to the sun for water ice to survive.Earth’s building blocks may have had far more water than previously thought | Christopher Crockett | August 27, 2020 | Science News
Normality, domesticity, ease, in the blazing Arizona desert.The Story Behind Lee Marvin’s Liberty Valance Smile | Robert Ward | January 3, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
desert Golfing is the distillation of Angry Birds into its purest essence.
desert Golfing is the gaming equivalent of putting TV on in the background.
If life gets in the way, desert Golfing totally understands.
But an ad-supported version of desert Golfing was impossible.
After we had passed over this desert, we found several garisons to defend the caravans from the violence of the Tartars.
The leaves were motionless, the river crept past without a murmur, the dark hills rose out of the distant desert like a wave.The Wave | Algernon Blackwood
The author of the life of St. Francis Xavier, asserts, that "by one sermon he converted ten thousand persons in a desert island."The Book of Anecdotes and Budget of Fun; | Various
Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high: and the desert shall be as a charmel, and charmel shall be counted for a forest.The Bible, Douay-Rheims Version | Various
The dining room was for the souls of the locals, who could admire the desert more conveniently than find a good meal.Fee of the Frontier | Horace Brown Fyfe
British Dictionary definitions for desert (1 of 3)
a region that is devoid or almost devoid of vegetation, esp because of low rainfall
an uncultivated uninhabited region
a place which lacks some desirable feature or quality: a cultural desert
(modifier) of, relating to, or like a desert; infertile or desolate
British Dictionary definitions for desert (2 of 3)
(tr) to leave or abandon (a person, place, etc) without intending to return, esp in violation of a duty, promise, or obligation
military to abscond from (a post or duty) with no intention of returning
(tr) to fail (someone) in time of need: his good humour temporarily deserted him
(tr) Scots law to give up or postpone (a case or charge)
- deserter, noun
- deserted, adjective
British Dictionary definitions for desert (3 of 3)
(often plural) something that is deserved or merited; just reward or punishment
the state of deserving a reward or punishment
virtue or merit
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
Scientific definitions for desert
A large, dry, barren region, usually having sandy or rocky soil and little or no vegetation. Water lost to evaporation and transpiration in a desert exceeds the amount of precipitation; most deserts average less than 25 cm (9.75 inches) of precipitation each year, concentrated in short local bursts. Deserts cover about one fifth of the Earth's surface, with the principal warm deserts located mainly along the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, where warm, rising equatorial air masses that have already lost most of their moisture descend over the subtropical regions. Cool deserts are located at higher elevations in the temperate regions, often on the lee side of a barrier mountain range where the prevailing winds drop their moisture before crossing the range.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Other Idioms and Phrases with desert
In addition to the idiom beginning with desert
- desert a sinking ship
- just deserts
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.