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Meaning of desertion in English

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  • backstabber
  • break ranks idiom
  • faithlessly
  • faithlessness
  • fifth column
  • stab someone in the back idiom
  • tergiversation
  • throw someone to the lions idiom
  • throw someone under the bus idiom
  • treasonable
  • unfaithfulness

You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics:

desertion | American Dictionary

Examples of desertion, translations of desertion.

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Definition of desertion

  • abandonment
  • dereliction

Examples of desertion in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'desertion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Latin dēsertiōn-, dēsertiō, from dēserere "to part company with, abandon, leave uninhabited, leave in the lurch" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at desert entry 3

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Dictionary Entries Near desertion


desert ironwood

Cite this Entry

“Desertion.” Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Legal Definition

Legal definition of desertion.

Note: Desertion is a ground for divorce in many states.

More from Merriam-Webster on desertion

Nglish: Translation of desertion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of desertion for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about desertion

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the act of deserting or the state of being deserted .

Law . willful abandonment, especially of one's spouse without consent, in violation of legal or moral obligations.

an act of leaving military service or duty without the intention of returning.

Origin of desertion

Other words from desertion.

  • pre·de·ser·tion, noun
  • self-de·ser·tion, noun
  • Compare AWOL .

Words Nearby desertion

  • desert fathers
  • deserticolous
  • desertification
  • desert iguana
  • desert island
  • desert locust
  • desert lynx Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use desertion in a sentence

Log in, give a reason for your desertion , and enter your password.

The dangerous prospects combined with low pay meant that finding crews for the ships was difficult and desertions ahead of launch day were high.

With viral online organizing, the idea of non- desertion agreements could spread quickly.

“I, Pvt. Eddie D. Slovik, 36896415, confess to the desertion of the United States Army…” it began.

A general read aloud the order that Pvt. Eddie Slovik was to be executed for the crime of desertion .

His desertion barely warranted a comment, but he was not hailed as a hero.

“I believe I am the only colonel in the regular army who was ever court-martialed and convicted of desertion ,” he laughed.

To cease living together for the time fixed by statute is not desertion unless this was done intentionally.

desertion is a general ground of divorce, the law in every state prescribing a period of time, quite often three years.

But the Emperor could not forgive his desertion , and, thinking he would not benefit by his services, he refused them.

Have you any plea to urge beyond the natural one of her seemingly unprovoked desertion of you?

The sense of the desertion by humankind, by God and mercy and rationality swept through me and overwhelmed my inner self.

British Dictionary definitions for desertion

/ ( dɪˈzɜːʃən ) /

the act of deserting or abandoning or the state of being deserted or abandoned

law wilful abandonment, esp of one's spouse or children, without consent and in breach of obligations

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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Definition of 'desertion'

Desertion in british english.

IPA Pronunciation Guide

desertion in American English

Examples of 'desertion' in a sentence desertion, synonyms of 'desertion', cobuild collocations desertion, trends of desertion.

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  • deserticolous
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Definition of desertion noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  • The army was badly affected by desertions.

Questions about grammar and vocabulary?

Find the answers with Practical English Usage online, your indispensable guide to problems in English.

  • She felt betrayed by her husband's desertion.
  • Industrialization led to the growth of cities and the desertion of villages.
  • the of the party by former supporters

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Desertion definition

What does desertion mean.

The wilful abandonment of one's spouse or civil partner (and children) without their consent and with the intention of forsaking and /or abandoning all legal obligations in respect of them.

To rely on the fact of desertion in proceedings for divorce or dissolution the desertion must be for a continuous period of no less than 2 years. Desertion means that one spouse / civil partner left the family home against the wishes of the other with no good reason. If the partner was away continuously for 2 out of the last 2½ years the desertion can still be relied on for divorce or dissolution without the agreement of the partner. If the parties live together for a total of up to 6 months during this period this would not stop the desertion being continuous. The court will want proof of the desertion.

Desertion - Legal Definition

View the related practice notes about desertion, desertion (pre-ddsa 2020).

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (DDSA 2020) is in force from 6 April 2022. Proceedings issued by the...

Grounds for judicial separation (pre-DDSA 2020)

Grounds for judicial separation (pre-DDSA 2020) The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (DDSA 2020) is in...

Discover our 22 Practice Notes on Desertion

View the related precedents about Desertion

Divorce—client guide (post-ddsa 2020).

Divorce—client guide (post-DDSA 2020) This document provides general guidance regarding divorce procedure. Your family lawyer will be able to provide...

Letter to client enclosing certificate of entitlement to conditional order in divorce or dissolution proceedings (post-DDSA 2020)

Letter to client enclosing certificate of entitlement to conditional order in divorce or dissolution proceedings (post-DDSA 2020) Dear [insert client’s...

Dive into our 7 Precedents related to Desertion

View the related q&as about Desertion

Where the petitioner sought 50% of their costs in relation to the divorce suit in the petition, can they increase their claim to 100% of their costs on applying for the decree nisi.

Where the petitioner sought 50% of their costs in relation to the divorce suit in the petition,...

Is it possible to rely on two facts under section 1(2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (adultery and unreasonable behaviour) to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage?

Is it possible to rely on two facts under section 1(2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (adultery and ...

See the 9 Q&As about Desertion

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Desertion is willful abandonment of a person's duties or obligations , especially to a spouse or child. Some common uses of the term desertion in a legal sense include:

  • Desertion is a ground for divorce in states with fault divorce . In the context of divorce, cases such as this one from Virginia explain that “Desertion occurs when one spouse breaks off marital cohabitation with the intent to remain apart permanently, without the consent and against the will of the other spouse.”
  • As explained in this case from Georgia , the term “desertion” as an element in the offense of abandonment of a child, means “the willful forsaking and desertion of the duties of parenthood.”
  • Desertion can also be the basis for a court to grant an adoption where a parent has deserted a child for a specified period of time. Cases such as this one from Oregon , explain that the term desertion as used in the context of the statute permitting adoption, means  parental conduct which indicates an intention to desert all parental duties and parental rights in the child. 

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team ]

  • family & personal matters
  • wex definitions
  • 1.1 Etymology
  • 1.2 Pronunciation
  • 1.3.1 Derived terms
  • 1.3.2 Related terms
  • 1.3.3 Translations
  • 1.4 Anagrams
  • 2.1.1 Declension
  • 2.2 Further reading

English [ edit ]

Etymology [ edit ].

Borrowed from Middle French désertion .

Pronunciation [ edit ]

  • ( Received Pronunciation ) IPA ( key ) : /dɪˈzɜːʃən/
  • ( General American ) IPA ( key ) : /dɪˈzɝʃən/
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)ʃən

Noun [ edit ]

desertion ( countable and uncountable , plural desertions )

  • The act of deserting .

Derived terms [ edit ]

  • spiritual desertion

Related terms [ edit ]

Translations [ edit ], anagrams [ edit ].

  • detersion , enteroids , interdose

Danish [ edit ]

desertion   c ( singular definite desertionen , plural indefinite desertioner )

Declension [ edit ]

Further reading [ edit ].

  • “ desertion ” in Den Danske Ordbog

desertion the meaning

  • English terms derived from Proto-Indo-European
  • English terms derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *ser- (bind)
  • English terms borrowed from Middle French
  • English terms derived from Middle French
  • English 3-syllable words
  • English terms with IPA pronunciation
  • English terms with audio links
  • Rhymes:English/ɜː(ɹ)ʃən
  • Rhymes:English/ɜː(ɹ)ʃən/3 syllables
  • English lemmas
  • English nouns
  • English uncountable nouns
  • English countable nouns
  • Danish lemmas
  • Danish nouns
  • Danish common-gender nouns
  • Terms with redundant transliterations
  • Terms with redundant transliterations/cmn
  • Danish nouns with red links in their headword lines

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  12. Desertion Definition

    The wilful abandonment of one's spouse or civil partner (and children) without their consent and with the intention of forsaking and

  13. desertion

    Desertion is willful abandonment of a person's duties or obligations, especially to a spouse or child. Some common uses of the term desertion in a legal

  14. desertion

    (General American) IPA: /dɪˈzɝʃən/; Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)ʃən. Noun edit. desertion (countable and uncountable, plural desertions). The act of deserting.