• synonyms


[adjective des-uh-lit; verb des-uh-leyt]
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  1. barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape.
  2. deprived or destitute of inhabitants; deserted; uninhabited.
  3. solitary; lonely: a desolate place.
  4. having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.
  5. dreary; dismal; gloomy: desolate prospects.
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verb (used with object), des·o·lat·ed, des·o·lat·ing.
  1. to lay waste; devastate.
  2. to deprive of inhabitants; depopulate.
  3. to make disconsolate.
  4. to forsake or abandon.
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Origin of desolate

1325–75; Middle English < Latin dēsōlātus forsaken, past participle of dēsōlāre, equivalent to dē- de- + sōlāre to make lonely, derivative of sōlus sole1; see -ate1
Related formsdes·o·late·ly, adverbdes·o·late·ness, noundes·o·lat·er, des·o·la·tor, nounqua·si-des·o·late, adjectivequa·si-des·o·late·ly, adverb
Can be confuseddesolate dissolute

Synonyms for desolate

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Synonym study

4. 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.

Antonyms for desolate

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for desolately

desperately, sadly, dispiritedly, cynically, darkly, dejectedly, desolately, despairingly, despondently, disconsolately, dismally, emptily, gloomily, pessimistically

Examples from the Web for desolately

Historical Examples of desolately

  • I could not prompt him to go on, but he presently did so himself, desolately enough.

    Questionable Shapes

    William Dean Howells

  • "We are now about to get all the news of the neighbourhood," she said desolately.

    Love at Paddington

    W. Pett Ridge

  • "The house won't be like a home without you," said he desolately.

  • The square was silent; desolately silent, as only a suburban square can be.


    Wilkie Collins

  • For, methinks, I have been kept a great while from you, desolately alone.

British Dictionary definitions for desolately


adjective (ˈdɛsəlɪt)
  1. uninhabited; deserted
  2. made uninhabitable; laid waste; devastated
  3. without friends, hope, or encouragement; forlorn, wretched, or abandoned
  4. gloomy or dismal; depressing
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verb (ˈdɛsəˌleɪt) (tr)
  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
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Derived Formsdesolater or desolator, noundesolately, adverbdesolateness, noun

Word Origin for desolate

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



late 14c., from desolate (adj.). Related: Desolated; desolating.

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mid-14c., "without companions," also "uninhabited," from Latin desolatus, past participle of desolare "leave alone, desert," from de- "completely" (see de-) + solare "make lonely," from solus "alone" (see sole (adj.)). Sense of "joyless" is 15c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper