desert

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cultural desert

Any place that is characterized by having a distinct lack of complexity, vibrancy, vitality, or interest in intellectual and artistic activity. After living in New York City for seven years, this little town is something of a cultural desert by comparison. Once considered a cultural desert, the country is now teeming with new museums, extravagant theater productions, and a truly vibrant and eclectic music scene.
See also: desert

just deserts

That which one deserves, especially a punishment or unfavorable outcome. Usually used in the phrase "get/receive one's just deserts." (Note: The phrase is often misspelled as "just desserts," due to the pronunciation of "deserts" and "desserts" being the same in this context.) The CEO cheated his clients out of nearly $4 million, but he got his just deserts when he was stripped of everything he owned and sent to prison.
See also: desert, just

receive (one's) just deserts

To receive that which one deserves, especially a punishment or unfavorable outcome. (Note: The phrase is often misspelled as "just desserts," due to the pronunciation of "deserts" and "desserts" being the same in this context.) The CEO cheated his clients out of nearly $4 million, but he received his just deserts when he was stripped of everything he owned and sent to prison.
See also: desert, just, receive

like rats deserting a sinking ship

With great haste and having only personal well-being in mind. (Typically said of people who begin abandoning something or someone that is failing or about to fail.) I knew the business was doomed when employees started quitting en masse, like rats deserting a sinking ship. Like rats deserting a sinking ship, the disgraced athlete's corporate sponsors began pulling their sponsorships one after another.
See also: desert, like, rat, ship, sink

desert a sinking ship

 and leave a sinking ship
Fig. to leave a place, a person, or a situation when things become difficult or unpleasant. (Rats are said to be the first to leave a ship that is sinking.) I hate to be the one to desert a sinking ship, but I can't work for a company that continues to lose money. There goes Tom. Wouldn't you know he'd leave a sinking ship rather than stay around and try to help?
See also: desert, ship, sink

Desert and reward seldom keep company.

Prov. If you deserve a reward, you are not necessarily going to get it. Jill: I worked so hard on that project, and Fred is taking all the credit for it. Jane: You know how it goes; desert and reward seldom keep company.

desert (someone or something) for (someone or something else)

to leave someone for someone else; to leave something or some place for some other thing or place. She deserted her husband for another man. Many retirees have deserted northern states for the warmer climates of the South.
See also: desert

desert someone or something to someone or something

to abandon someone or something to someone or something; to let someone or something have someone or something. Who deserted this child to her horrible fate? Sam deserted his land to the horde of grubby prospectors.
See also: desert

get one's just deserts

 and get one's just reward(s); get one's
[specified by context] to get what one deserves. I feel better now that Jane got her just deserts. She really insulted me. The criminal who was sent to prison got his just rewards. You'll get yours!
See also: desert, get, just

get your just deserts

if you get your just deserts, something bad happens to you that you deserve because of something bad you have done Did you read about the burglar whose own house was broken into? He really got his just deserts.
See be just what the doctor ordered, just gay enough, be just a pretty face, Just my luck!
See also: desert, get, just

desert a sinking ship

Abandon a failing enterprise before it is too late. For example, After seeing the company's financial statement, he knew it was time to desert a sinking ship . This metaphoric expression alludes to rats, which leave a vessel when it founders in a storm or runs aground so as to escape drowning. It was transferred to human behavior by about 1600.
See also: desert, ship, sink

just deserts

A deserved punishment or reward, as in He got his just deserts when Mary jilted him. This idiom employs desert in the sense of "what one deserves," a usage dating from the 1300s but obsolete except in this expression.
See also: desert, just

desert cherry

n. a new soldier in a desert war; a soldier new to the desert in wartime. (see also cherry.) About 5,000 desert cherries arrived last week. Something is going to happen soon.
See also: cherry, desert
References in classic literature ?
The bottoms of their trousers were quite torn, and old Nahan Rajah, he thought they were European soldiers deserting.
Snagsby looking in at the shop-door to know what he means by deserting his tea.
Deserting soldiers returning to their homes were to be seen every day.
You know," said the princess in the same tone of voice and still in French, turning to a general, "my husband is deserting me?
Then up she flew; deserting her eggs, so as to make her meaning clear.
I couldn't understand why they were deserting it now, when we were about to set out for the mainland in it; but when I reached its side I under-stood.
Achmet Zek with two of his followers had circled far to the south to intercept the flight of his deserting lieutenant, Werper.
And he had been so near to deserting her to her fate.
Some few miles farther on he overtook a party of deserting royalist soldiery, and from them he easily, by dint of threats, elicited the information he desired: the direction taken by the refugees from the deserted castle, their number, and as close a description of the party as the soldiers could give.