- 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.
- 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.
Origin of desert1
— 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.
- "Bedouin women tending flocks of goats are the brightest touch of color in the treeless, waterless, and harsh Negev desert."-Ruth Craig Fodor’s Israel, 6th Edition (2006)
- "During this period [Christian Europe] was an intellectual desert, where the mind was uncultivated and permitted to run to waste."-W. Tannehill Essay on the Literature of the Moors of Spain The Hesperian, Volume 2 (1838)
- "In some places mudflats stretch along the ground, tortured and cracked by the dry desert air."-Fred Punzo Desert Arthropods: Life History Variations (2000)
- "A long line of more than a score of camels was something in itself, not to mention the riders in their desert costume."-Alexander Wallace The Desert and the Holy Land (1868)
- 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.
Origin of desert2
- "There used to be two kinds of kisses: First when girls were kissed and deserted; second, when they were engaged. Now there's a third kind, where the man is kissed and deserted."-F. Scott Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise (1920)
- "Girty had deserted his military post at Port Pitt, and become an outlaw of his own volition."-Zane Grey The Spirit of the Border (1906)
- "I had a strong and comforting faith that I should be able to organize and conduct an Administration which would satisfy and win the country. This faith never deserted me."-Rutherford B. Hayes ed. Charles Richard Williams Diary (January 23, 1881) Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes: Nineteenth President of the United States, vol. III (1922-1926)
- "[A]ll she knew was that her father had deserted from the Soviet army many years before. She believed that to be the reason he was in hiding."-Steve Martini Guardian of Lies (2009)
- 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.
- get/receive/etc. one's (just) deserts, to be punished or rewarded in a manner appropriate to one's actions or behavior: Some people felt he had gotten his just deserts, having been imprisoned and relieved of his ill-gotten gains, but others would have preferred old-style public flogging, followed by drawing and quartering, and who can blame them?
Origin of desert3
- "The words of the Divina Commedia are still the mightiest and most living words in which man has ever painted in detail the true deserts of sin, penitence, and sanctity."-Rev. John C. Eccleston, from his lectures on Dante Alighieri The Churchman, vol. 53 (January 2, 1886)
- "I have no sympathy with those who invested their money in slave property. They not only received their just deserts in having their property confiscated, but they should have been compelled to make restitution to the last penny to the poor slaves whom they had systematically robbed."-Timothy Thomas Fortune Black and White: Land, Labor, and Politics in the South (1884)
- "Some will always mistake the degree of their own desert."-Samuel Johnson The Rambler, No. 193 (January 21, 1752)
Examples from the Web for desert
Normality, domesticity, ease, in the blazing Arizona desert.The Story Behind Lee Marvin’s Liberty Valance Smile
January 3, 2015
Desert Golfing is the gaming equivalent of putting TV on in the background.
Desert Golfing is the distillation of Angry Birds into its purest essence.
If life gets in the way, Desert Golfing totally understands.
But an ad-supported version of Desert Golfing was impossible.
De Lord had been with them in six troubles, and he would not desert them in de seventh.Harriet, The Moses of Her People
Sarah H. Bradford
Their ancestors, like those of the Jews and the Babylonians, had been a desert folk.
For many years they lived amidst the trackless hills of the desert.
To desert a woman was justifiable, under certain circumstances.
But to desert a woman, and have her apparently not even know it, was against the rules of the game.
- 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 qualitya cultural desert
- (modifier) of, relating to, or like a desert; infertile or desolate
- (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 needhis good humour temporarily deserted him
- (tr) Scots law to give up or postpone (a case or charge)
- (often plural) something that is deserved or merited; just reward or punishment
- the state of deserving a reward or punishment
- virtue or merit
Word Origin and History for desert
"to leave one's duty," late 14c., from Old French deserter (12c.) "leave," literally "undo or sever connection," from Late Latin desertare, frequentative of Latin deserere "to abandon, to leave, forsake, give up, leave in the lurch," from de- "undo" (see de-) + serere "join together, put in a row" (see series). Military sense is first recorded 1640s. Related: Deserted; deserting.
"wasteland," early 13c., from Old French desert (12c.) "desert, wilderness, wasteland; destruction, ruin," from Late Latin desertum (source of Italian diserto, Old Provençal dezert, Spanish desierto), literally "thing abandoned" (used in Vulgate to translate "wilderness"), noun use of neuter past participle of Latin deserere "forsake" (see desert (v.)).
Sense of "waterless, treeless region" was in Middle English and gradually became the main meaning. Commonly spelled desart in 18c., which is not etymological but at least avoids confusion with the other two senses of the word. Classical Latin indicated this idea with deserta, plural of desertus.
"suitable reward or punishment" (now usually plural and with just), c.1300, from Old French deserte, noun use of past participle of deservir "be worthy to have," ultimately from Latin deservire "serve well" (see deserve).
- 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.
A Closer Look: A desert is defined not by temperature but by the sparse amount of water found in a region. An area with an annual rainfall of fewer than 25 centimeters (9.75 inches) generally qualifies as a desert. In spite of the dryness, however, some animals and plants have adapted to desert life and thrive in these harsh environments. While different animals live in different types of deserts, the dominant animals of warm deserts are reptiles, including snakes and lizards, small mammals, such as ground squirrels and mice, and arthropods, such as scorpions and beetles. These animals are usually nocturnal, spending the day resting in the shade of plants or burrowed in the ground, and emerging in the evenings to hunt or eat. Warm-desert plants are mainly ground-hugging shrubs, small wooded trees, and cacti. Plant and animal life is scarcer in the cool desert, where the precipitation falls mainly as snow. Plants are generally scattered mosses and grasses that are able to survive the cold by remaining low to the ground, avoiding the wind, and animal life can include both large and small mammals, such as deer and jackrabbits, as well as a variety of raptors and other birds.
Idioms and Phrases with desert
In addition to the idiom beginning with desert
- desert a sinking ship
- just deserts