Desolate vs destitute

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The words desolate and destitute are often confused. We will examine the definitions of desolate and destitute, the origins of the two words and some examples of their use in sentences.

Desolate means deserted, devastated or laid waste, without hope, forlorn, unhappy, lonely. Desolate may be used as an adjective or a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are desolates, desolated, desolating, desolation, desolately, desolateness. The word desolate is derived from the Latin word desolatus, which means to leave alone or to desert. The word desolate is often used to describe an abandoned place as well as a person’s feeling of being abandoned.

Destitute means poor, without means of support, being deprived of something. The word is derived from the Latin word destitutus which means abandoned. Destitute is an adjective. Destitute also has another, obsolete meaning of being deserted or abandoned. It is probably this meaning that causes the confusion with the word desolate. Today, it is best to use the word desolate when describing an abandoned place or the feeling of being abandoned, and the word destitute when describing a state of poverty or being deprived.


As a result, the cruel reality is still cruel, the desolate churches are still desolate, and the hungry believers are still hungry. (China Christine Daily)

In what is expected to be a video for a Christmas single for the Staffordshire born star, Robbie was seen singing on a desolate Kentish beach whilst being circled by beautiful women. (The Daily Mail)

KOZHIKODE: When a large number of destitute people, including women and children, still depend on footpaths and wayside spaces to spend nights, a much-hyped project launched by the social justice department aiming to provide night shelter to such hapless people, is remaining unused in the city. (The Times of India)