1 waste, wilderness, wasteland, dust bowl:
The nearest oasis was fifty miles away across the desert.
2 barren, desolate, uninhabited, unpeopled, lonely, deserted; arid, bare, vacant, empty, wild, uncultivated:
I was marooned on a desert island.
3 forsake, leave, abandon; jilt, throw over; maroon, strand, leave to twist (slowly) in the wind; Colloq run or walk out on, leave flat or in the lurch, leave high and dry:
His courage deserted him when he saw the child's eyes. He has deserted his wife for some floozie.
4 abscond, quit, run away (from), defect, abandon; Military Slang go over the hill:
He deserted and will be court-martialled.
Often, deserts. payment, recompense, requital, compensation, due, right; retribution, justice, Slang comeuppance, what's coming to one:
She'll get her just deserts one of these days.