Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin desertum, from Latin, neuter of desertus, past participle of deserere to desert, from de- + serere to join together — more at series
Date: 13th century
a. arid land with usually sparse vegetation; especially such land having a very warm climate and receiving less than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of sporadic rainfall annually
b. an area of water apparently devoid of life
2. archaic a wild uninhabited and uncultivated tract
3. a desolate or forbidding area <lost in a desert of doubt> • desertic adjective • desertlike adjective II. adjective Date: 13th century 1. desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied <a desert island> 2. of or relating to a desert 3. archaic forsaken III. noun Etymology: Middle English deserte, from Anglo-French, from feminine of desert, past participle of deservir to deserve Date: 13th century 1. the quality or fact of deserving reward or punishment 2. deserved reward or punishment — usually used in plural <got their just deserts> 3. excellence, worth IV. verb Etymology: French déserter, from Late Latin desertare, frequentative of Latin deserere Date: 1603 transitive verb 1. to withdraw from or leave usually without intent to return <desert a town> 2. a. to leave in the lurch <desert a friend in trouble> b. to abandon (military service) without leave intransitive verb to quit one's post, allegiance, or service without leave or justification; especially to abandon military duty without leave and without intent to return Synonyms: see abandon • deserter noun
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.