[adjective des-uh-lit; verb des-uh-leyt]
See more synonyms for desolate on
  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.
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.

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

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
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
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.



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper