desert


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

desert

a terrestrial environment in which there is poor soil, climatic extremes of high and low temperatures and low rainfall, and consequently a scarcity of living organisms, all of which must be specially adapted. See XEROPHYTE, METABOLIC WATER.
References in classic literature ?
Just below our encampment flowed a little stream, on the farther side of which is a stony slope, the same down which, twenty years before, I had seen poor Silvestre creeping back after his attempt to reach Solomon's Mines, and beyond that slope begins the waterless desert, covered with a species of karoo shrub.
Here do I sit now, The desert nigh, and yet I am So far still from the desert, Even in naught yet deserted: That is, I'm swallowed down By this the smallest oasis--: --It opened up just yawning, Its loveliest mouth agape, Most sweet-odoured of all mouthlets: Then fell I right in, Right down, right through--in 'mong you, Ye friendly damsels dearly loved!
"In the first place," said the General, "we cannot march across the deadly desert to the Land of Oz.
ALL PERSONS ARE WARNED NOT TO VENTURE UPON THIS DESERT
For six hours they rode rapidly across the burning desert, avoiding the oases near which their way led.
"Well, maybe he only wanted to get us back here, and then he'll desert, too.
Some instances of this we met with in the country between Arguna, where we enter the Muscovite dominions, and a city of Tartars and Russians together, called Nortziousky, in which is a continued desert or forest, which cost us twenty days to travel over.
The appearance of this part of Africa was, moreover, quite calculated to inspire alarm: the desert was gradually expanding around them; not another village was to be seen--not even a collection of a few huts; and vegetation also was disappearing.
A broad green carpet was unrolling itself upon the desert, while advancing across the carpet was a wonderful procession that made the girl open her eyes in amazement as she gazed.
This region, which resembles one of the immeasurable steppes of Asia, has not inaptly been termed "the great American desert." It spreads forth into undulating and treeless plains, and desolate sandy wastes wearisome to the eye from their extent and monotony, and which are supposed by geologists to have formed the ancient floor of the ocean, countless ages since, when its primeval waves beat against the granite bases of the Rocky Mountains.
The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and despondent.
But the first thing to do is to cross the desert, and then it should be easy to find your way home."