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Definition of desertion

Example Sentences

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desertion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback .

Word History

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Dictionary Entries Near desertion


desert ironwood

Cite this Entry

“Desertion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/desertion. Accessed 2 Mar. 2023.

Legal Definition

Legal definition of desertion.

Note: Desertion is a ground for divorce in many states.

More from Merriam-Webster on desertion

Nglish: Translation of desertion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of desertion for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about desertion

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Origin of desertion

Other words from desertion, words nearby desertion, words related to desertion, how to use desertion in a sentence.

Log in, give a reason for your desertion , and enter your password.

The dangerous prospects combined with low pay meant that finding crews for the ships was difficult and desertion s ahead of launch day were high.

With viral online organizing, the idea of non- desertion agreements could spread quickly.

“I, Pvt. Eddie D. Slovik, 36896415, confess to the desertion of the United States Army…” it began.

A general read aloud the order that Pvt. Eddie Slovik was to be executed for the crime of desertion .

His desertion barely warranted a comment, but he was not hailed as a hero.

“I believe I am the only colonel in the regular army who was ever court-martialed and convicted of desertion ,” he laughed.

To cease living together for the time fixed by statute is not desertion unless this was done intentionally.

Desertion is a general ground of divorce, the law in every state prescribing a period of time, quite often three years.

But the Emperor could not forgive his desertion , and, thinking he would not benefit by his services, he refused them.

Have you any plea to urge beyond the natural one of her seemingly unprovoked desertion of you?

The sense of the desertion by humankind, by God and mercy and rationality swept through me and overwhelmed my inner self.

British Dictionary definitions for desertion

10 U.S. Code § 885 - Art. 85. Desertion

In subsection (a), the word “unit” is substituted for the words “place of service” to conform to clause (2) of this section and section 886(3) of this title . The word “proper” is omitted as surplusage.

In subsection (b), the word “commissioned” is inserted for clarity. The word “before” is substituted for the words “prior to”. The words “its acceptance” are substituted for the words “the acceptance of the same”. The words “after tender of” are substituted for the words “having tendered” for clarity. The word “due” is omitted as surplusage.

In subsection (c), the words “attempt to desert” are substituted for the words “attempted desertion”.


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    desertion historical definition

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    desertion historical definition

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    desertion historical definition


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  1. Desertion Definition & Meaning

    1 : an act of deserting especially : the abandonment without consent or legal justification of a person, post, or relationship and the associated duties and obligations sued for divorce on grounds of desertion 2 : a state of being deserted or forsaken Synonyms abandonment dereliction forsaking See all Synonyms & Antonyms in Thesaurus

  2. Desertion Definition & Meaning

    noun. 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.

  3. Desertion

    Desertion is the abandonment of a military duty or post without permission (a pass, liberty or leave) and is done with the intention of not returning. This contrasts with unauthorized absence ( UA ) or absence without leave ( AWOL / ˈ eɪ w ɒ l / ), which are temporary forms of absence.

  4. Buffalo Soldiers

    Buffalo soldiers had the lowest military desertion and court-martial rates of their time. Many won the Congressional Medal of Honor , an award presented in recognition of combat valor that goes ...

  5. 10 U.S. Code § 885

    Desertion. without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently; quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or.