Also found in: Thesaurus.


 (dĕs′ə-lĭt, dĕz′-)
a. Devoid of inhabitants; deserted: "streets which were usually so thronged now grown desolate" (Daniel Defoe).
b. Barren; lifeless: the rocky, desolate surface of the moon.
2. Feeling, showing, causing, or expressing sadness or loneliness. See Synonyms at sad.
tr.v. (-lāt′) des·o·lat·ed, des·o·lat·ing, des·o·lates
1. To rid or deprive of inhabitants.
2. To lay waste; devastate: "Here we have no wars to desolate our fields" (Michel Guillaume Jean de Crèvecoeur).
3. To forsake; abandon.
4. To make lonely, forlorn, or wretched.

[Middle English desolat, from Latin dēsōlātus, past participle of dēsōlāre, to abandon : dē-, de- + sōlus, alone; see s(w)e- in Indo-European roots.]

des′o·late·ly adv.
des′o·late·ness n.
des′o·lat′er, des′o·la′tor n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
She responds instinctively with, to him, incomprehensible doggerel that foreshadows Herpes Rom: "The desolater desolate, / The tyrant overthrown." Shortly afterwards he recounts his apparently unrelated snake dream.
Porgy laments to Sergeant Millhouse, "I am a ruined man t I go back to the ancient homestead of my fathers, to find it desolater" (82).