[dih-zur-shuh n]


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 formspre·de·ser·tion, nounself-de·ser·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for desertion

Contemporary Examples of desertion

Historical Examples of desertion

  • But, talk as he might, in Johnny Rosenfeld's loyal heart there was no thought of desertion.


    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

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