Share this entry

Share this page


Syllabification: wil·der·ness
Pronunciation: /ˈwildərnəs

Definition of wilderness in English:


[usually in singular]
1An uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.
Example sentences
  • Ahead is a barren land of lochans and beautifully-ridged mountains rising steeply from an uninhabited wilderness.
  • Incredibly, 250 years ago the Lake District was seen as an ugly and inhospitable wilderness.
  • I saw sequoias as tall and straight as skyscrapers, celestial waterfalls and a wilderness stretching to unseen horizons.
wilds, wastes, bush, bush country, bushland, inhospitable region;
desert, backcountry, outback, great outdoors
informal boondocks, boonies
1.1A neglected or abandoned area of a garden or town.
Example sentences
  • Ponies play a crucial role in the area's ecology by eating vast amounts of vegetation and preventing the landscape turning into a wilderness.
  • To the right is a wilderness, abandoned to brambles, ground elder, bindweed and buddleia.
  • A lot of farmers went out of business, some of the more marginal farming areas reverted to wilderness.
wasteland, no man's land
informal wilds
1.2A position of disfavor, especially in a political context: the man who led the Green Party out of the wilderness [as modifier]: his wilderness years
More example sentences
  • In this capacity he was given charge only of the Royal Navy, a position that, after ten years in the political wilderness, he was content to accept.
  • And, if we don't send that message, I fear that we will be in the political wilderness for a long time.
  • Churchill spent most of the 1930s in the political wilderness opposing the disastrous appeasement of Hitler.


Old English wildēornes 'land inhabited only by wild animals', from wild dēor 'wild deer' + -ness.


a voice in the wilderness

An unheeded advocate of reform (see Matt. 3:3, etc.).
Example sentences
  • ‘We can achieve things with that approach but we need one united voice otherwise we are a voice in the wilderness,’ Mr Daly added.
  • Wesbury is chief economist at GKST, and has been a voice in the wilderness for the past couple of years, pointing out the undercurrent of strength in the domestic U.S. Economy.
  • Time will tell whether Spurlock's capable of arriving at conclusions rather than telegraphing them in advance, but for now, he's a voice in the wilderness.

Definition of wilderness in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day libretto
Pronunciation: lɪˈbrɛtəʊ
the text of an opera…