[des-uh-ley-shuh n]
See more synonyms for desolation on
  1. an act or instance of desolating.
  2. the state of being desolated.
  3. devastation; ruin.
  4. depopulation.
  5. dreariness; barrenness.
  6. deprivation of companionship; loneliness.
  7. sorrow; grief; woe.
  8. a desolate place.

Origin of desolation

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin dēsōlātiōn- (stem of dēsōlātiō) abandonment, equivalent to dēsōlāt(us) (see desolate) + -iōn- -ion Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for desolation


  1. the act of desolating or the state of being desolated; ruin or devastation
  2. solitary misery; wretchedness
  3. a desolate region; barren waste
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 desolation

late 14c., "action of laying waste," also "sorrow, grief," from Old French desolacion (12c.) "desolation, devastation, hopelessness, despair," from Church Latin desolationem (nominative desolatio), noun of action from past participle stem of desolare (see desolate (adj.)). Meaning "condition of being ruined or wasted" is from early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper