a wild and uncultivated region, as of forest or desert, uninhabited or inhabited only by wild animals; a tract of wasteland.
a tract of land officially designated as such and protected by the U.S. government.
any desolate tract, as of open sea.
a part of a garden set apart for plants growing with unchecked luxuriance.
a bewildering mass or collection.

1150–1200; Middle English; Old English *wil(d)dēornes, equivalent to either wil(d)dēor wild beast (see wild, deer) + -nes -ness, or wilddēoren wild, savage (wilddēor + -en -en2) + (-n)es -ness; probably reinforced by Middle English wildernes, genitive of wildern wilderness (noun use of Old English wilddēoren), in phrases like wildernes land land of wilderness

1. See desert1.
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a wooded area in NE Virginia: several battles fought here in 1864 between armies of Grant and Lee.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
wilderness (ˈwɪldənɪs)
1.  a wild, uninhabited, and uncultivated region
2.  any desolate tract or area
3.  a confused mass or collection
4.  a voice in the wilderness, a voice crying in the wilderness a person, group, etc, making a suggestion or plea that is ignored
5.  in the wilderness no longer having influence, recognition, or publicity
[Old English wildēornes, from wildēor wild beast (from wild + dēor beast, deer) + -ness; related to Middle Dutch wildernisse, German Wildernis]

Wilderness (ˈwɪldənɪs)
the Wilderness the barren regions to the south and east of Palestine, esp those in which the Israelites wandered before entering the Promised Land and in which Christ fasted for 40 days and nights

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

c.1200, from O.E. wildeoren "wild, savage," from wildern (adj.) "wild, savage" (from wilde "wild" + deor "animal;" see deer) + -ness. Cf. Du. wildernis, Ger. Wildernis, though the usual form is Wildnis.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Wilderness definition

(1.) Heb. midhbar, denoting not a barren desert but a district or region suitable for pasturing sheep and cattle (Ps. 65:12; Isa. 42:11; Jer. 23:10; Joel 1:19; 2:22); an uncultivated place. This word is used of the wilderness of Beersheba (Gen. 21:14), on the southern border of Palestine; the wilderness of the Red Sea (Ex. 13:18); of Shur (15:22), a portion of the Sinaitic peninsula; of Sin (17:1), Sinai (Lev. 7:38), Moab (Deut. 2:8), Judah (Judg. 1:16), Ziph, Maon, En-gedi (1 Sam. 23:14, 24; 24:1), Jeruel and Tekoa (2 Chr. 20:16, 20), Kadesh (Ps. 29:8). "The wilderness of the sea" (Isa. 21:1). Principal Douglas, referring to this expression, says: "A mysterious name, which must be meant to describe Babylon (see especially ver. 9), perhaps because it became the place of discipline to God's people, as the wilderness of the Red Sea had been (comp. Ezek. 20:35). Otherwise it is in contrast with the symbolic title in Isa. 22:1. Jerusalem is the "valley of vision," rich in spiritual husbandry; whereas Babylon, the rival centre of influence, is spiritually barren and as restless as the sea (comp. 57:20)." A Short Analysis of the O.T. (2.) Jeshimon, a desert waste (Deut. 32:10; Ps. 68:7). (3.) 'Arabah, the name given to the valley from the Dead Sea to the eastern branch of the Red Sea. In Deut. 1:1; 2:8, it is rendered "plain" (R.V., "Arabah"). (4.) Tziyyah, a "dry place" (Ps. 78:17; 105:41). (5.) Tohu, a "desolate" place, a place "waste" or "unoccupied" (Deut. 32:10; Job 12:24; comp. Gen. 1:2, "without form"). The wilderness region in the Sinaitic peninsula through which for forty years the Hebrews wandered is generally styled "the wilderness of the wanderings." This entire region is in the form of a triangle, having its base toward the north and its apex toward the south. Its extent from north to south is about 250 miles, and at its widest point it is about 150 miles broad. Throughout this vast region of some 1,500 square miles there is not a single river. The northern part of this triangular peninsula is properly the "wilderness of the wanderings" (et-Tih). The western portion of it is called the "wilderness of Shur" (Ex. 15:22), and the eastern the "wilderness of Paran." The "wilderness of Judea" (Matt. 3:1) is a wild, barren region, lying between the Dead Sea and the Hebron Mountains. It is the "Jeshimon" mentioned in 1 Sam. 23:19.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences for wilderness
The deeper he withdrew into the wilderness, the more numerous his disciples
The ark of the covenant burned the thorns and other obstructions in the
  wilderness roads.
Sumos is a wild overgrown wilderness of ancient ruins and temples to long lost
The area was then a wilderness with alders and willow forests.
Images for wilderness
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