WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2020
des•ert1 /ˈdɛzɚt/USA pronunciation   n. [countable]
  1. Ecologya hot, dry, sandy region with little or no rain or water:Some animals can survive in the desert on very little water.
  2. any place lacking in something desirable:The town was a cultural desert.

adj. [before a noun]
  1. of, relating to, or like a desert:desert wilderness.
  2. occurring or living in the desert:a desert palm.
  3. designed or suitable for use in the desert.

de•sert2 /dɪˈzɜrt/USA pronunciation   v. 
  1. [ + obj] to leave (a person, etc.) without intending to return, esp. when done against the law or in breaking a promise:He deserted his wife and children.
  2. Military(of military personnel) to run away from (service, etc.) with the intention of never returning: [ + obj]:He deserted his platoon and went over to the enemy.[no obj]:He deserted in the midst of battle.
  3. [ + obj] to fail (someone) at a time of need:None of his friends had deserted him.
de•sert•er, n. [countable]

de•sert3 /dɪˈzɜrt/USA pronunciation   n. [countable]
  1. Often,  deserts. [plural] reward or punishment that is deserved:He got his just deserts when they discovered he'd lied to everyone.

WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2020
des•ert1  (dezərt),USA pronunciation n. 
  1. Ecologya region so arid because of little rainfall that it supports only sparse and widely spaced vegetation or no vegetation at all:The Sahara is a vast sandy desert.
  2. Ecologyany area in which few forms of life can exist because of lack of water, permanent frost, or absence of soil.
  3. Ecologyan area of the ocean in which it is believed no marine life exists.
  4. (formerly) any unsettled area between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains thought to be unsuitable for human habitation.
  5. any place lacking in something:The town was a cultural desert.

adj. 
  1. of, pertaining to, or like a desert; desolate;
    barren.
  2. occurring, living, or flourishing in the desert:a desert tribe; a desert palm.
  3. designed or suitable for wear in the desert, as cool, protective clothing:a big, wide-brimmed desert hat.
de•ser•tic  (dezərt),USA pronunciation adj.  desert•like′, adj. 
  • Late Latin dēsertum (neuter), noun, nominal use of past participle of Latin dēserere to abandon, forsake, equivalent. to dē- de- + serere to join together (in a line); compare series
  • Anglo-French
  • Middle English 1175–1225
    • 1.See corresponding entry in Unabridged Desert, waste, wilderness refer to areas that are largely uninhabited.
      Desert emphasizes lack of water;
      it refers to a dry, barren, treeless region, usually sandy:an oasis in a desert.Waste emphasizes lack of inhabitants and of cultivation;
      it is used of wild, barren land:a desolate waste.Wilderness emphasizes the difficulty of finding one's way, whether because of barrenness or of dense vegetation:a trackless wilderness.

de•sert2  (di zûrt),USA pronunciation v.t. 
  1. to leave (a person, place, etc.) without intending to return, esp. in violation of a duty, promise, or the like:He deserted his wife.
  2. Military(of military personnel) to leave or run away from (service, duty, etc.) with the intention of never returning.
  3. to fail (someone) at a time of need:None of his friends had deserted him.

v.i. 
  1. to forsake or leave one's duty, obligations, etc. (sometimes fol. by from, to, etc.):Many deserted during the food shortage.
  2. Military(of military personnel) to leave service, duty, etc., with no intention of returning:Troops were deserting to the enemy.
de•serted•ly, adv. 
de•serted•ness, n. 
de•serter, n. 
  • Late Latin dēsertāre, frequentative of Latin dēserere; see desert1
  • Middle French déserter
  • 1470–80
    • 1.See corresponding entry in Unabridged Desert, abandon, forsake mean to leave behind persons, places, or things.
      Desert implies intentionally violating an oath, formal obligation, or duty:to desert campaign pledges.Abandon suggests giving up wholly and finally, whether of necessity, unwillingly, or through shirking responsibilities:to abandon a hopeless task; abandon a child.Forsake has emotional connotations, since it implies violating obligations of affection or association:to forsake a noble cause.

de•sert3  (di zûrt),USA pronunciation n. 
  1. Often,  deserts. reward or punishment that is deserved:to get one's just deserts.
  2. the state or fact of deserving reward or punishment.
  3. the fact of deserving well;
    merit;
    virtue.
  • Old French deserte, noun, nominal use of feminine past participle of deservir to deserve
  • Middle English 1275–1325
    • 3.See corresponding entry in Unabridged See  merit. 

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