View synonyms for desolate


[ adjective des-uh-lit; verb des-uh-leyt ]


  1. barren or laid waste; devastated:

    a treeless, desolate landscape.

    Synonyms: bleak

  2. deprived or destitute of inhabitants; deserted; uninhabited.

    Synonyms: remote

  3. a desolate life.

  4. having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.

    Synonyms: hopeless, woeful, wretched, miserable, lost, lonesome, cheerless, inconsolable, woebegone

    Antonyms: happy, delighted

  5. desolate prospects.

verb (used with object)

, des·o·lat·ed, des·o·lat·ing.
  1. to lay waste; devastate.

    Synonyms: ruin, ravage

  2. to deprive of inhabitants; depopulate.
  3. to make disconsolate.

    Synonyms: depress, sadden

  4. to forsake or abandon.

    Synonyms: desert



  1. uninhabited; deserted
  2. made uninhabitable; laid waste; devastated
  3. without friends, hope, or encouragement; forlorn, wretched, or abandoned
  4. gloomy or dismal; depressing
“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


  1. to deprive of inhabitants; depopulate
  2. to make barren or lay waste; devastate
  3. to make wretched or forlorn
  4. to forsake or abandon
“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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Derived Forms

  • ˈdesolately, adverb
  • ˈdesolateness, noun
  • ˈdesoˌlater, noun
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Other Words From

  • deso·late·ly adverb
  • deso·late·ness noun
  • deso·later deso·lator noun
  • quasi-deso·late adjective
  • quasi-deso·late·ly adverb
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Word History and Origins

Origin of desolate1

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English, from Latin dēsōlātus “forsaken,” past participle of dēsōlāre, from dē- de- + sōlāre “to make lonely” (derivative of sōlus sole 1 )
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Word History and Origins

Origin of desolate1

C14: from Latin dēsōlāre to leave alone, from de- + sōlāre to make lonely, lay waste, from sōlus alone
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Synonym Study

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.
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Example Sentences

Nothing beats hauling your truckload of beer coolers and puffy mattresses and folding chairs and half-cord of split pine into the hinterland and setting up a free campsite on some desolate piece of ground and proceeding to do nothing for a few days.

I have to close my eyes to picture how desolate my neighborhood looked last year, with most everything closed and the near-constant wail of ambulances in the background.

From Time

This one sits high atop a desolate moor overlooking Maud’s seaside town and its even bleaker cheap carnival atmosphere.

From Vox

The real tragedy of Ethan Winters is that despite the game’s every effort to portray him as a desolate vessel for the player, his dogged, dumb persistence finally allowed a part of himself to pierce through.

The novel, an enormous influence on modern zombie horror, channels Atomic Age anxiety by depicting formerly bustling neighborhoods as newly desolate.

Louisa also devotes much of her time to feeding underprivileged children in the desolate Kurland Village in South Africa.

Here, only the twisting grey concrete under his tires disturbed the desolate wild.

In 1979 I published Desolate Angel/Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America.

He was visiting San Francisco and had questions about Desolate Angel.

If anything, the ending of Mother Courage is even more desolate than that of Godot—at least Vladimir and Estragon had each other.

When she heard it there came before her imagination the figure of a man standing beside a desolate rock on the seashore.

They burnt the chosen city of holiness, and made the streets thereof desolate according to the prediction of Jeremias.

When the funeral was over, and they returned to their desolate home, at the sight of the empty cradle Ramona broke down.

And her gates shall lament and mourn, and she shall sit desolate on the ground.

And he said: Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land shall be left desolate.