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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 ?
Three or four hours out from Damascus we passed the spot where Saul was so abruptly converted, and from this place we looked back over the scorching desert, and had our last glimpse of beautiful Damascus, decked in its robes of shining green.
Beyond this charmed circle, for miles on every side, stretches a weary desert of sand and gravel, which produces a gray bunchy shrub like sage-brush.
There was very little water, and that little saline: the whole country, from the coast to the Cordillera, is an uninhabited desert.
We continued to ride over desert plains, tenanted by large herds of guanaco.
Twenty palm-thatched, beehive huts sheltered its black population, while a half-dozen goat skin tents in the center of the clearing housed the score of Arabs who found shelter here while, by trading and raiding, they collected the cargoes which their ships of the desert bore northward twice each year to the market of Timbuktu.
Playing before one of the Arab tents was a little girl of ten--a black-haired, black-eyed little girl who, with her nut-brown skin and graceful carriage looked every inch a daughter of the desert.
Hot air isn't as good as gas, for if the air should get cold the balloon would come down in the desert, and we should be lost.
It seemed as though no caravan had ever braved this desert expanse, or it would have left visible traces of its encampments, or the whitened bones of men and animals.
I laughed a little --I was too weak to laugh much--and watched him strike out for the great desert to the west, wondering if he was mad, or what he thought he was going to find there.
In the first place," said the General, "we cannot march across the deadly desert to the Land of Oz.
What you do with him in the desert is none of my concern, but I shall not have the blood of a Frenchman on the hands of my tribe on account of another man's quarrel--they would send soldiers here and kill many of my people, and burn our tents and drive away our flocks.
Oh," said Dorothy, when the shaggy man had read the sign aloud; "I've seen this desert before, and it's true no one can live who tries to walk upon the sands.
My name," replied the Woman, "is Truth; and I live in the desert in order to be near my worshippers when they are driven from among their fellows.
Westward the fertile Land of Ev suddenly ended a little way from the palace, and the girl could see miles and miles of sandy desert that stretched further than her eyes could reach.
About three hours after, when we were entered upon a desert of about fifteen or sixteen miles over, we knew by a cloud of dust they raised, that the enemy was at hand, and presently they came on upon the spur.