Word of the Day – Desolate

Word of the Day : May 26, 2021


adjective DESS-uh-lut


1 : devoid of inhabitants and visitors : deserted

2 : joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful through or as if through separation from a loved one

3 a : showing the effects of abandonment and neglect : dilapidated

b : barrenlifeless

c : devoid of warmth, comfort, or hope : gloomy

Did you know?

The word desolate hasn’t strayed far from its Latin roots: its earliest meaning of “deserted” mirrors that of its Latin source dēsōlātus, which comes from the verb dēsōlāre, meaning “to leave all alone, forsake, empty of inhabitants.” That word’s root is sōlus, meaning “lone, acting without a partner, lonely, deserted,” source too of solesoliloquysolitarysolitude, and soloDesolate also functions as a verb with its most common meanings being “to lay waste” and “to make wretched; to make someone deeply dejected or distressed.”


“In the final stretch of the long journey from Pyongyang to Moscow, a Russian diplomat loads his family’s possessions onto a wooden cart.… Through the biting February cold, the cart inches through the desolate North Korean countryside as the diplomat pushes from behind to help the group of eight reach the Russian borders.” — Jean H. Lee, The Wilson Quarterly, 3 Mar. 2021

“Julien Baker, as she’s adding reverb to her guitar, strives to add chilling effects to her already desolate words, not to make them feel more relatable. She wants them to sting.” — Bre Offenberger, The Post (Athens, Ohio), 5 Apr. 2021