Meaning of “desert” in the English Dictionary

"desert" in British English

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desertnoun [ C or U ]

uk /ˈdez.ət/ us /ˈdez.ɚt/

A2 an area, often covered with sand or rocks, where there is very little rain and not many plants:

They were lost in the desert for nine days.
We had to cross a large area of arid, featureless desert.
the desert sun
cultural, intellectual, etc. desert disapproving

a place that is considered to have no cultural, intellectual, etc. quality or interest:

This town is a cultural desert.

More examples

  • The flatness of the desert was broken only by a few large piles of rocks.
  • She gave a hair-raising account of her escape through the desert.
  • Living rough in the desert hardened the recruits a lot.
  • The terrorists assumed control of the plane and forced it to land in the desert.
  • At night, adult scorpions prowl the desert for insects.


uk /dɪˈzɜːt/ us /dɪˈzɝːt/

desert verb (RUN AWAY)

[ I or T ] to leave the armed forces without permission and with no intention of returning:

Soldiers who deserted and were caught were shot.
How many people desert from the army each year?

desert verb (LEAVE BEHIND)

[ T ] to leave someone without help or in a difficult situation and not come back:

He deserted his wife and family for another woman.

[ T ] If a quality deserts you, you suddenly and temporarily lose it:

All my confidence/courage deserted me when I walked into the exam.

(Definition of “desert” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"desert" in American English

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desertverb [ T ]

us /dɪˈzɜrt/

to leave someone or something without help or in a difficult situation:

Local people deserted the city as hordes of tourists arrived.

If you desert the armed forces, you leave without permission and with no intention of returning:

He denied that he had deserted his post.

desertnoun [ C/U ]

us /ˈdez·ərt/

a large, dry area where there is very little rain and few plants:

[ U ] When you live in the desert, water is your most vital resource.

(Definition of “desert” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)