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


  1. Deserted and devoid of inhabitants.
    a desolate isle; a desolate wilderness; a desolate house
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Jeremiah 9:11 ↗:
      I will make Jerusalem […] a den of dragons, and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant.
  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.
    • voice of the poor and desolate
Translations Translations
  • Portuguese: desolado
  • Russian: оскуде́вший
  • Spanish: desierto, desolado, devastado
Translations Translations
  • German: öde
  • Italian: nero
  • Portuguese: desolado
  • Russian: ску́дный
Translations Verb

desolate (desolates, present participle desolating; 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,
      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,
      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,
      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, Thalaba the Destroyer, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees & Orme, 2nd edition, 1809, Volume I, Book 3, p. 118,
      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,
      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.
  4. To make someone sad, forlorn and hopeless.
    • 1914, Arnold Bennett, The Author’s Craft, London: Hodder & Stoughton, Part II, p. 44,
      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,
      Kumalo stood shocked at the frightening and desolating words.
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