Ever wonder how people could have possibly survived if stranded on a “desert island”?
The earliest meaning of the adjective “desert” was "uninhabited, uncultivated.” Even a forest could be “desert.”
The noun has come to mean a sandy or rocky waste whereas the adjective has survived only in the phrase “desert island.” It means “deserted, uninhabited.”
Desert islands have been the subject of cartoons for a long time. I was reminded of the phrase by this clever variation from Wiley Miller.
Remember not to confuse desert islands with dessert islands. The latter might work as a description of the French traditional after-dinner treat, îsles flottant.