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[dih-zur-shuh n] /dɪˈzɜr ʃən/
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.
Compare AWOL.
Origin of desertion
1585-95; < Late Latin dēsertiōn- (stem of dēsertiō) < Latin dēsert(us) (see desert1) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
predesertion, noun
self-desertion, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for desertion
  • And there is also the question of the reaction of the partner to desertion.
  • With a possible charge of desertion, which carries no statute of limitations.
  • desertion of a calumniated friend is an immoral action.
  • What is certainly the desertion is not a reduced description, a description is not a birthday.
  • Rather, it takes the form of separation and desertion after a family group has been formed.
  • desertion from the military is a serious offense with serious legal consequences.
  • The harsh conditions led to a high rate of illness, widespread desertion, and hundreds of deaths.
  • Adult females may mate several times before returning to the ocean, abruptly weaning their pups by desertion.
  • But the boredom led to discontent among the soldiers, resulting in high desertion rates.
  • desertion of one spouse by the other without just cause is called malicious abandonment.
British Dictionary definitions for desertion


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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Word Origin and History for desertion

1590s, from Middle French désertion (early 15c.), from Late Latin desertionem (nominative desertio) "a forsaking, abandoning," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin deserere (see desert (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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