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Inherited from Middle English wast lond, modification of earlier weste lond, from Old English weste land (wasteland); equivalent to waste +‎ land.



wasteland (plural wastelands)

  1. A place with no remaining resources; a desert.
    Ten years of drought had left the area a wasteland.
    • 2007, Kai Hansen, "To Mother Earth", Gamma Ray, Land of the Free II.
      Here create another wasteland / On and on 'til nothing's there / Here it comes, the devastation / Poisoning the air
  2. Any barren or uninteresting place.
    After his experiences, he no longer found western Kansas such a wasteland.
  3. A devastated, uninhabitable area.
    • 1951 October, R. S. McNaught, “Lines of Approach”, in Railway Magazine, page 703:
      Another place where, from the aesthetic point of view, a long tunnel would have been a real blessing, is East London as viewed from the carriage window on the old Great Eastern line. Despite a vast change from crowded slums to tracts of wasteland, due to its grim wartime experience, this approach still provides a shabby and unworthy introduction to the great capital.
    • 2014, Randall Munroe, anonymous quotee, “Weird (and Worrying) Questions from the What If? Inbox, #7”, in What If?, New York, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, →ISBN, page 157:
      How many nuclear missiles would have to be launched at the United States to turn it into a complete wasteland?
    • 2022 January 12, Benedict le Vay, “The heroes of Soham...”, in RAIL, number 948, page 43:
      Yet had the whole train and all its bombs gone, had the engine crew merely jumped from the train and run as simple self-preservation would have suggested, or unhitched just the engine to make their escape faster, the whole town would have gone and most of the people with it, leaving just a smoking wasteland. Hundreds would have died.
  4. Unused land.
    • 2023 September 20, “National Rail Awards 2023”, in RAIL, page 82:
      Azaz and Ray were nominated individually for what, at first glance, looked like a project to transform wasteland at South Tottenham station into a community garden.