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Re: Desert island

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 04, 2005

In Reply to: Re: Desert island posted by Smokey Stover on March 04, 2005

: : : : why do people say, or literary references are made to a DESERT ISLAND when most likely they mean a DESERTED ISLAND, that is, an island with nobody on it. when they talk of this island, it always has a palm tree, at least, not a desert, but deserted.

: : : I think you may be using an overly restrictive definition of 'desert' - what you would describe as a 'desert island' is a sand-bank. a 'deserted island' could either be an island that was at one time populated and then the population abandoned it or you mean an island with a 'desert' on it. however, a 'desert' has two appropriate usages coll. a hot dry sandy place with sparse vegetation or the geographers' technical definition being an arid place with meagre rainfall unable to support much, if any vegetation [ mil. is to leave a position without permission]

: : : having no population does not make a place 'deserted' unless there was previously a population there - the appropriate word is 'desolate' or 'unpopulated' - contrarily, having a palm tree does not exclude the place being a desert [I think it may be simply that a place needs to have less than 10cm annual precipitation to be a 'desert'].

: : : I'll get my burnoose...

: : : L

: :
: : www.m-w.com (Merriam-Webster) lists sense 1 of desert (adjective) as: "desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied "

: : Sense 2 of desert (noun) is: "archaic : a wild uninhabited and uncultivated tract"

: OED: desert island, an uninhabited, or seemingly uninhabited, and remote island
: OED: desert, a. 1. Deserted, forsaken, abandoned. arch.
: Sometimes as pa. pple.: cf. DESERT v. 4.
: 2. Uninhabited, unpeopled, desolate, lonely.
: MWOD: Main Entry: 2. desert
: Pronunciation: 'de-z&rt
: Function: adjective
: Date: 13th century
: 1 : desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied
: 2 : of or relating to a desert
: 3 archaic : FORSAKENOED: desert island, an uninhabited, or seemingly uninhabited, and remote island
: OED: desert, a. 1. Deserted, forsaken, abandoned. arch.
: Sometimes as pa. pple.: cf. DESERT v. 4.
: 2. Uninhabited, unpeopled, desolate, lonely.
: MWOD: Main Entry: 2. desert
: Pronunciation: 'de-z&rt
: Function: adjective
: Date: 13th century
: 1 : desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied
: 2 : of or relating to a desert
: 3 archaic : FORSAKEN
: So say the experts. SS

Well, so say the experts once too often. Sorry about that! SS