desert

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See also: désert, desèrt, and deșert

English[edit]

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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English desert, deseert, from Old French deserte, from deservir (to deserve), from Vulgar Latin dēserviō (to gain or merit by giving service).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

desert (plural deserts)

  1. (usually in the plural) That which is deserved or merited; a just punishment or reward.
    • 1600, John Dowland, Flow My Tears:
      From the highest spire of contentment / my fortune is thrown; / and fear and grief and pain for my deserts / are my hopes, since hope is gone.
    • 1609, William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 17”, in Shake-speares Sonnets. [], London: By G[eorge] Eld for T[homas] T[horpe] and are to be sold by William Aspley, →OCLC:
      Who will believe my verse in time to come,
      If it were fill'd with your most high deserts?
    • 1897, Bram Stoker, chapter 21, in Dracula, New York, N.Y.: Modern Library, →OCLC:
      "Nonsense, Mina. It is a shame to me to hear such a word. I would not hear it of you. And I shall not hear it from you. May God judge me by my deserts, and punish me with more bitter suffering than even this hour, if by any act or will of mine anything ever come between us!"
    • July 4, 1789, Alexander Hamilton, Eulogium on Major-General Greene
      His reputation falls far below his desert.
    • 1971, John Rawls, A Theory of Justice:
      "It is true that certain common sense precepts of justice, particularly those which concern the protection of liberties and rights, or which express the claims of desert, seem to contradict this contention."
Usage notes[edit]

Sometimes confused with dessert, especially in set phrases such as just deserts.

Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English desert (wilderness), from Old French desert, from Latin dēsertum, past participle of dēserō (to abandon). Generally displaced native Old English wēsten.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

A desert on Mars

desert (countable and uncountable, plural deserts)

  1. A barren area of land or desolate terrain, especially one with little water or vegetation; a wasteland.
    • 1591, Ed[mund] Sp[enser], Daphnaïda. An Elegy upon the Death of the Noble and Vertuous Douglas Howard,Daughter and Heire of Henry Lord Howard, Viscount Byndon, and Wife of Arthure Gorges Esquier. [], London: [] [Thomas Orwin] for William Ponsonby, [], →OCLC, signature [C4], recto:
      And ye poore Pilgrimes, that vvith reſtleſſe toyle / VVearie your ſelues in vvandring deſert vvayes, []
    • 1713, Alexander Pope, “Windsor-Forest. []”, in The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, volume I, London: [] W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintot, [], published 1717, →OCLC:
      Not thus the land appear'd in ages past, / A dreary desert and a gloomy waste.
    • 1892, James Yoxall, chapter 5, in The Lonely Pyramid:
      The desert storm was riding in its strength; the travellers lay beneath the mastery of the fell simoom. Whirling wreaths and columns of burning wind, rushed around and over them.
    1. (informal) In particular, a barren, arid area of land which is hot, with sandy, rocky, or parched ground.
  2. (figuratively) Any barren place or situation.
    • 1858, William Howitt, Land, Labour, and Gold; Or, Two Years in Victoria, page 54:
      He declared that the country was an intellectual desert; that he was famishing for spiritual aliment, and for discourse on matters beyond mere nuggets, prospectings, and the price of gold.
    • 1964 March, “News and Comment: Which way to the West?”, in Modern Railways, page 147:
      By contrast, the WR route is an economic desert between Newbury and Taunton.
    • 2006, Philip N. Cooke, Creative Industries in Wales: Potential and Pitfalls, page 34:
      So the question that is commonly asked is, why put a media incubator in a media desert and have it managed by a civil servant?
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Adjective[edit]

desert (not comparable)

  1. Usually of a place: abandoned, deserted, or uninhabited.
    They were marooned on a desert island in the Pacific.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Mark vi:31:
      And he said vnto them, Come yee your selues apart into a desert place, and rest a while. For there were many comming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eate.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Luke ix:10:
      He [] went aside privately into a desert place.
    • 1697, Virgil, “The Eighth Book of the Æneis”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, page 441, lines 252–255:
      See, from afar, yon Rock that mates the Sky, / About whoſe Feet ſuch Heaps of Rubbiſh lye: / Such indigeſted Ruin; bleak and bare, / How deſart now it ſtands, expos'd in Air!
    • 1750, Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, Stanza 14:
      Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, / And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hall, Joseph Sargent (March 2, 1942), “1. The Vowel Sounds of Stressed Syllables”, in The Phonetics of Great Smoky Mountain Speech (American Speech: Reprints and Monographs; 4), New York: King's Crown Press, →DOI, →ISBN, § 12, page 42.

Etymology 3[edit]

Borrowed from French déserter, from Late Latin desertō, from Latin desertus, from deserō (abandon).

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

desert (third-person singular simple present deserts, present participle deserting, simple past and past participle deserted)

  1. To leave (anything that depends on one's presence to survive, exist, or succeed), especially when contrary to a promise or obligation; to abandon; to forsake.
    You can't just drive off and desert me here, in the middle of nowhere.
  2. To leave one's duty or post, especially to leave a military or naval unit without permission.
    Anyone found deserting will be punished.
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Etymology 4[edit]

Noun[edit]

desert (countable and uncountable, plural deserts)

  1. Obsolete form of dessert.
    • 1790 September 20, George Washington, Letters from George Washington to Tobias Lear: With an Appendix Containing Miscellaneous Washington Letters and Documents; Reprinted from the Originals in the Collection of Mr. William K. Bixby, of St. Louis, Mo.; With Introduction and Notes, Rochester, N.Y., published 1905, page 8:
      Francis, besides being an excellent Cook, knowing how to provide genteel Dinners, and giving aid in dressing them, prepared the Desert, made the Cake, and did every thing that Hyde & wife conjointly do;—[]
    • 1816, John Simpson, A Complete System of Cookery, on a Plan Entirely New; Consisting of an Extensive and Original Collection of Receipts, in Cookery, Confectionary, etc. [], London: [] W. Stewart, []; Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, []; Gale and Fenner, [], pages 518, 525, and 541:
      They answer for caramel or gum paste baskets, for desert or suppers. [] BARBERRIES / For Deserts, or Second Course Pastry. [] Under these impressions—admitting, as they would, such a variety of combinations, the Author has confined himself to a plain selection of the principal articles in season in each month, merely to give a good general idea of laying out a table for deserts, leaving to the house[-]keeper to vary, and increase or diminish, according to her taste, or the extent of her company.
    • 1818, Peter Hervé, How to Enjoy Paris; Being a Complete Guide to the Visiter of the French Metropolis. [], 2nd edition, London: [] the Author: [] Mr. Egerton, Whitehall; Messrs. Hoitt, []; and Mesers.[sic] Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, [], page 286:
      The deserts are far more superb; the painter, the florist, the decorator, and even the sculptor being engaged to complete them. Formerly a desert at a splendid fete in a private house has cost a thousand pounds, exclusive of plate and glass.

Anagrams[edit]

Catalan[edit]

Etymology[edit]

First attested in the 14th century.[1] Likely a Semi-learned borrowing from Latin dēsertum.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

desert m (plural deserts)

  1. desert (desolate terrain)

References[edit]

  1. ^ desert”, in Gran Diccionari de la Llengua Catalana, Grup Enciclopèdia Catalana, 2024

Further reading[edit]

Friulian[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin dēsertum (in this form possibly a semi-learned term; cf. the variant form).

Noun[edit]

desert m (plural deserts)

  1. desert

Middle English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Old French deserte (deserved), from deservir (to deserve), from Vulgar Latin dēserviō (to gain or merit by giving service).

Alternative forms[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /dɛːˈzɛrt/, /dɛˈzɛrt/, /-sɛrt/

Noun[edit]

desert (plural desertes)

  1. The situation of deserving something.
  2. That which is deserved or merited; desert.
  3. An action or deed which invites or prompts judgement.
  4. worth, virtuousness, benefit; that which is good.
Descendants[edit]
  • English: desert
References[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old French desert, from Latin dēsertum, past participle of dēserō (to abandon).

Alternative forms[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈdɛzɛrt/, /dɛˈzɛrt/, /dɛː-/, /-sɛrt/, /-art/

Noun[edit]

desert (plural desertes)

  1. wilderness (unpopulated, bare land)
    • c. 1395, John Wycliffe, John Purvey [et al.], transl., Bible (Wycliffite Bible (later version), MS Lich 10.)‎[1], published c. 1410, Joon 1:23, page 43v, column 1; republished as Wycliffe's translation of the New Testament, Lichfield: Bill Endres, 2010:
      he ſeide / I am a vois of a crier in deſert .· dꝛeſſe ȝe þe weie of þe loꝛd. as yſaie þe pꝛophete ſeide
      He said: "I am the voice of a crier in the wilderness; straighten the way of the Lord, as the prophet Isaiah said."
Descendants[edit]
References[edit]

Adjective[edit]

desert

  1. (of places) barren, wild
  2. (usually of places) deserted, abandoned
Descendants[edit]
References[edit]

Middle French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old French desert.

Noun[edit]

desert m (plural desers)

  1. desert (desolate terrain)

Descendants[edit]

Old French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Probably borrowed from Latin dēsertum.

Noun[edit]

desert oblique singularm (oblique plural deserz or desertz, nominative singular deserz or desertz, nominative plural desert)

  1. desert (desolate terrain)

Descendants[edit]

Romanian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowed from French dessert.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

desert n (plural deserturi)

  1. dessert

Declension[edit]

Serbo-Croatian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowed from French dessert.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /děsert/
  • Hyphenation: de‧sert

Noun[edit]

dèsert m (Cyrillic spelling дѐсерт)

  1. dessert
    Antonym: predjelo

Declension[edit]

References[edit]

  • desert” in Hrvatski jezični portal