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From Middle English desolate, from Latin dēsōlātus, past participle of dēsōlāre (to leave alone, make lonely, lay waste, desolate), from sōlus (alone).


  • (adjective) IPA(key): /ˈdɛsələt/
    • (file)
  • (verb) IPA(key): /ˈdɛsəleɪt/


desolate (comparative more desolate, superlative most desolate)

  1. Deserted and devoid of inhabitants.
    a desolate isle; a desolate wilderness; a desolate house
  2. Barren and lifeless.
  3. Made unfit for habitation or use because of neglect, destruction etc.
    desolate altars
  4. Dismal or dreary.
  5. Sad, forlorn and hopeless.
    He was left desolate by the early death of his wife.



desolate (third-person singular simple present desolates, present participle desolating, simple past and past participle desolated)

  1. To deprive of inhabitants.
    • 1625, Francis Bacon, “Of Vicissitude of Things” in Essays, London: H. Herringman et al., 1691, p. 204,[1]
      If you consider well of the People of the West-Indies, it is very probable, that they are a newer or younger People, than the People of the old World. And it is much more likely, that the destruction that hath heretofore been there, was not by Earthquakes, [] but rather, it was Desolated by a particular Deluge: For Earthquakes are seldom in those Parts.
    • 1717, John Dryden (translator), Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Dublin: G. Risk et al., 1727, Volume I, Book I, p. 16,[2]
      O Righteous Themis, if the Pow’rs above
      By Pray’rs are bent to pity, and to love;
      If humane Miseries can move their Mind;
      If yet they can forgive, and yet be kind;
      Tell how we may restore, by second birth,
      Mankind, and people desolated Earth.
    • 1891, Charles Creighton, A History of Epidemics in Britain, Cambridge University Press, Chapter 1, p. 23,[3]
      York was so desolated just before the survey that it is not easy to estimate its ordinary population []
  2. To devastate or lay waste somewhere.
    • 1801, Robert Southey, “The Third Book”, in Thalaba the Destroyer, volume I, London: [] [F]or T[homas] N[orton] Longman and O[wen] Rees, [], by Biggs and Cottle, [], OCLC 277545047, page 168:
      Then Moath pointed where a cloud
      Of Locusts, from the desolated fields
      Of Syria, wing’d their way.
    • 1905, H. G. Wells, A Modern Utopia, Chapter 2, § 3,[4]
      But in Utopia there will be wide stretches of cheerless or unhealthy or toilsome or dangerous land with never a household; there will be regions of mining and smelting, black with the smoke of furnaces and gashed and desolated by mines, with a sort of weird inhospitable grandeur of industrial desolation, and the men will come thither and work for a spell and return to civilisation again, washing and changing their attire in the swift gliding train.
  3. To abandon or forsake something.
    • 1828, Algernon Herbert, Nimrod: A Discourse on Certain Passages of History and Fable:
      It is not to be supposed that when Cush left Armenia, he left it desolate, and that a rich and long settled country was abandoned altogether; for it would be an absurd way of founding an universal empire, to desolate one country in order to people another.
    • 2007, James B. Jordan, The Handwriting on the Wall: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel, →ISBN:
      This completion of the Temple and attack upon Christians is the event that marks the apostasy that causes desolation, the detestable act that causes God to desolate (abandon) and destroy the Temple for the last time.
    • 2013, Tracey A. Revenson, “Debunking the Myth of Lonelines in Late Life”, in Redefining Social Problems, →ISBN, page 126:
      Combining widowed, separated, and divorced elders into a single group ("desolated"), the data indicated that desolated elders were slightly more lonely than either married or never-married older people (although this trend was not statistically significant at the conventional .05 level).
  4. To make someone sad, forlorn and hopeless.
    • 1914, Arnold Bennett, The Author’s Craft, London: Hodder & Stoughton, Part II, p. 44,[5]
      It is not altogether uncommon to hear a reader whose heart has been desolated by the poignancy of a narrative complain that the writer is unemotional.
    • 1948, Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country, New York: Scribner, Chapter 36, p. 271,[6]
      Kumalo stood shocked at the frightening and desolating words.

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  1. inflection of desolat:
    1. strong/mixed nominative/accusative feminine singular
    2. strong nominative/accusative plural
    3. weak nominative all-gender singular
    4. weak accusative feminine/neuter singular



desolate f pl

  1. feminine plural of desolato




  1. vocative masculine singular of dēsōlātus