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


verb (used with object), des·o·lat·ed, des·o·lat·ing.

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

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for desolateness

Historical Examples of desolateness

  • The desolateness of the poor girls had perhaps been greater than their grief.

    Two Penniless Princesses

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Why does not Dorothea give the real reason for her desolateness?

  • Its newness and desolateness of appearance revolted me, just then.


    Wilkie Collins

  • Meg felt lonely and blank; and pity mingled with her desolateness.

    Meg's Friend

    Alice Abigail Corkran

  • There was a kind of desolateness in our life, though we did not understand it at the time.

    The Two Sides of the Shield

    Charlotte M. Yonge

British Dictionary definitions for desolateness


adjective (ˈdɛsəlɪt)

uninhabited; deserted
made uninhabitable; laid waste; devastated
without friends, hope, or encouragement; forlorn, wretched, or abandoned
gloomy or dismal; depressing

verb (ˈdɛsəˌleɪt) (tr)

to deprive of inhabitants; depopulate
to make barren or lay waste; devastate
to make wretched or forlorn
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 desolateness



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