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Desolate Definition – Meaning and Usage In A Sentence

Desolate Definition – Meaning and Usage In A Sentence

It is natural to encounter a word you do not understand or have not seen before in a conversation, movie, article, book, or other reading material. This is when you turn to your dictionary to find its meaning. One such word is "desolate," but we will let you know the desolate definition, meaning, and how to use this word in a sentence.

Desolate means "a place without inhabitants or visitors; deserted." The word also describes an abandoned place. Refer to this word in sentences that show "being joyless or sorrowful due to separation from a loved one." As a verb, it means to deprive a place of inhabitants, to lay waste, or forsake.

"Desolate" is one of those words you anticipate knowing their meaning once you notice them. The word applies either as a verb or adjective. In this article, we will exhaust all you need to know about this word. Read on to understand the word desolate, its meanings, pronunciation, history, and how to apply it in different contexts. 

desolate walking streetWhat is the Definition of Desolate?

Desolate is defined as "being empty, having no living things." For instance, the word can describe a house abandoned by its previous occupants for a long time. Such a house is empty, and without any occupants, we can say it is "desolated." 

Other sentence examples:

  • The war has turned these streets desolate
  • The flood left a once highly populated town desolate
  • I would never live comfortable in a desolate neighborhood

When describing without living things, it means that a place doesn't support life, or at the moment, some living things cannot thrive due to present conditions. A good example would be the moon. In a sentence: The surface of the moon is rocky and desolate. That means the area does not support the existence of living things naturally. 

Other sentence examples:

  • Mary's biggest mistake was planting trees on the desolate ground
  • Scientists predict that 60% of forest land will be desolate ten years from now.
  • It beats logic why desolate land should cost that much.

What is the Meaning of Desolate?

The word desolate also refers to something or a situation that is not attractive or without any pleasantness. That means that things do not look appealing. 

Below are examples of sentences where the word desolate is used this way.

  • You will feel desolate if you watch that movie to the end.
  • Teachers evidence that preschool children struggle with a desolate attitude in their first days in school.

Another common meaning of this word is "feeling alone or extremely sad." It describes someone feeling sadness, and you can see it in their eyes or actions. The sadness can be from losing a loved one or something they cannot control. For instance, a widow feels desolate when her husband passes away.

Desolate is also among the correct words that can describe someone without friends. Such situations get triggered by some actions. It is also common to see desolate people being gloomy and feeling depressed.

Different Meanings of Desolate (As a Verb and Adjective)

From the previously described meanings, you might have realized that this word has other definitions when used as an adverb or verb. Like most English words, the word desolate has multiple meanings depending on its use. Let's help you distinguish the different means.

Below are some of the meanings of the words as an adjective.

  • Without habitants or being deserted.
  • Made inhabitable by war, laid waste, or devastated.
  • Without company, friends, family, or hope (lonely, abandoned, or wretched)
  • Looking depressing, unattractive, or unappealing (depressing). This can refer to a place or someone.
  • Feeling very sad or devastated.
  • Barren or lifeless.
  • Made unfit for habitation or use, destroyed.

Here are some meanings of the word desolate as a verb;

  • To deprive a place of its inhabitants
  • To depopulate a place
  • To make a place barren, abandon, or forsake

Words with Similar Meanings as Desolate (Synonyms)

As you learn all you can about the word desolate, you will also benefit from learning about its synonyms. These are words with similar meanings to desolate. The words are a great way to expand your vocabulary. Your context will also sound outstanding when using these synonyms in different applications. 

Here are some synonyms of the word desolate;

  • Uninhabited
  • Dark
  • Lorn
  • Forsaken
  • Depopulated
  • Dreary
  • Bleak
  • Dull
  • Deserted
  • Abandoned
  • Isolated 
  • Dismal 
  • Gloomy
  • Joyless
  • Unoccupied
  • Vacant
  • Void 
  • Ravage
  • Devastate

Note that the words above do not have 100% similar meanings to desolate. For instance, the word dark can describe a depressed or unattractive place but not an uninhabited place. Therefore, it would be wise to keep this in mind when applying the synonyms. 

Words with Opposite Meanings of Desolate (Antonyms)

Apart from the synonyms, several other words have opposite meanings. Below are some of the desolate antonyms.

  • Bright
  • Cheerful
  • Cheery
  • Comfort
  • Populated
  • Heartwarming
  • Buoyant
  • Hopeful
  • Optimistic
  • Reclaimed
  • Recovered
  • Redeemed
  • Rescued
  • Salvaged
  • Saved

How to Use Desolate in a Sentence

You can use the word desolate in a sentence as an adjective or a verb. It all depends on what meaning you want to apply or what you wish to describe.

Desolate as a Verb

When using the word as a verb, you must understand the working and formation of transitive verbs. The good thing is you can use the word as a transitive verb by adding "ed" or "ing" at the end. Based on the meaning of this word as a verb, we can say that the transitional verb form of desolate describes "an abandoned place, person or population."

Below are example sentences:

  • We all know that outer space is boring and desolating.
  • She was left feeling desolated when her daughter moved out of the house.
  • The old neighborhoods are being desolated, and families moved to other parts of the city.

Desolate as an Adjective

Using the word as an adjective is easier because you can use it without changing anything. The most important thing is to ensure the word fits in the right context without compromising the meaning. 

For instance, you can also use the word as an adjective to describe someone devastated by loss or sadness, loneliness, or neglect. 

Below are some examples in sentences:

  • Shakes untimely death left behind a desolate widow
  • Maria felt desolate when his best friend moved away
  • Students will usually feel desolate when a favorite teacher changes school unexpectedly

10 Examples of Desolate in a Sentence

After understanding the meaning and definition of the word from the sections above, you can now start using the word in sentences. Below are ten examples of the word desolate and its word forms in sentences to inspire you.

  1. The scariest experience in my life was driving through the desolate neighborhood downtown.
  2. It was really courageous of her to pitch camp in a desolate land.
  3. He must be full of desolate; living alone in such a big house is not an easy thing.
  4. The wasteland was pretty desolate except for some grazing cows.
  5. The chemical waste from the industry left that land desolate.
  6. The mother felt desolated after his son got married and moved out.
  7. Moving from town to town as a child was such a desolating experience.
  8. The desolate wilderness is known for its rocky landscapes.
  9. His rejection left her feeling desolated.
  10. Refusing to socialize and make friends will leave you heartbroken and desolate.

How Do You Spell Desolate?

The word's right spelling is "D.E.S.O.L.A.T.E."

The spelling is quite simple because the word needs to appear exactly the way you pronounce it. However, people still make mistakes when writing it. The most common mistake is ending the word with "let" instead of "late."

How Do You Pronounce Desolate?

The word desolate is pronounced as " \ ˈde-sə-ˌlāt \." 

A good thing about this word is that it is pronounced the same in British and American English. Understanding how the word is pronounced will keep you from sounding bad when using it in conversations. 

How Many Syllables Are In Desolate?

The word desolate has three syllables. 

The three syllables in the word desolate are split into "des – o – late." You will realize that each syllable part of the word has a vowel letter. The stressed syllable in the word desolate is "des."

History & Etymology of Desolate

The word desolate comes from the Latin word "desolates" or "solus." The word "desolates" means deserted, while the word "solus" means alone, acting without a partner, lonely, or deserted.

Desolate has not strayed too far from its Latin roots. The word's current meaning also shows how it has remained unchanged over the years.

desola dictionary definitionWhen Was Desolate First Used?

The word desolate first appeared in the 1520s. 

In the 1520s, the word described overwhelming grief, sorrow, or weariness from affliction. People also used this word in the late 14th century to describe a place that has been depopulated or devastated. 


Desolate is a versatile word with several meanings. Now that you know desolate definitions, meanings, and how to use the word, make sure you practice constructing creative sentences and apply them in conversations. Feel free to share any interesting facts you have learned about the word as you plan to use it next time.