Etymology
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wilderness (n.)
c. 1200, "wild, uninhabited, or uncultivated place," with -ness + Old English wild-deor "wild animal, wild deer;" see wild (adj.) + deer (n.). Similar formation in Dutch wildernis, German Wildernis, though the usual form there is Wildnis.
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bewilder (v.)
1680s, "confuse as to direction or situation," also, figuratively, "perplex, puzzle, confuse," from be- "thoroughly" + archaic wilder "lead astray, lure into the wilds," which is probably a back-formation from wilderness. An earlier word with the same sense was bewhape (early 14c.) and there is a 17c. use of bewhatle.
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desert (n.1)

c. 1200, "wasteland, wilderness, barren area," wooded or not, from Old French desert (12c.) "desert, wilderness, wasteland; destruction, ruin" and directly from Late Latin desertum (source of Italian diserto, Old Provençal dezert, Spanish desierto), literally "thing abandoned" (used in Vulgate to translate "wilderness"), noun use of neuter past participle of Latin deserere "forsake" (see desert (v.)).

Sense of "waterless, treeless region of considerable extent" was in Middle English and gradually became the main meaning. Classical Latin indicated this idea with deserta, plural of desertus. Commonly spelled desart in 18c., which is unetymological, but it avoids confusion with the two other senses of the word. 

Every important worker will report what life there is in him. It makes no odds into what seeming deserts the poet is born. Though all his neighbors pronounce it a Sahara, it will be a paradise to him; for the desert which we see is the result of the barrenness of our experience. [Thoreau, Journal, May 6, 1854]
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howling (adj.)
c. 1600, "that howls," present-participle adjective from howl (v.)). The word was used in the King James Bible (1611) in reference to waste and wilderness (Deuteronomy xxxii.10), "characterized by or filled with howls (of wild beasts or the wind," which has tended to give it a merely intensive force.
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trail (n.)
early 14c., "trailing part of a robe, gown, etc.," from trail (v.). The meaning "track or smell left by a person or animal" is also from 1580s. Meaning "path or track worn in wilderness" is attested from 1807. Trail of Tears in reference to the U.S. government's brutally incompetent Cherokee removal of 1838-9 is attested by 1908.
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outpost (n.)

1757, "military position detached from the main body of troops or outside the limits of a camp," from out- + post (n.2). Originally in George Washington's letters. Phrase outpost of Empire (by 1895) "remotest territory of an empire" in later use often echoes Kipling:

There he shall blaze a nation’s ways with hatchet and with brand,
Till on his last-won wilderness an Empire’s outposts stand!
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pristine (adj.)

1530s, "pertaining to the earliest period, of a primitive style, ancient," from French pristin and directly from Latin pristinus "former, early, original," from Old Latin pri "before," from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first." Meaning "unspoiled, untouched, pure" is from 1899 (implied in a use of pristinely) is extended from such expressions as pristine wilderness, but according to OED [2nd ed. print], this is regarded as ignorant "by many educated speakers."

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manna (n.)

Old English borrowing from Late Latin manna, from Greek manna, from Hebrew mān, probably literally "substance exuded by the tamarisk tree," but used in Greek and Latin specifically with reference to the substance miraculously supplied to the Children of Israel during their wandering in the Wilderness (Exodus xvi.15). The Hebrew word often is referred to man "a gift." Meaning "spiritual nourishment" is attested from late 14c. Generalized sense of "something provided unexpectedly" is from 1590s.

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exacerbation (n.)

"act of exacerbating; state of being exacerbated; increase of violence or virulence, aggravation," c. 1400, exacerbacioun, from Late Latin exacerbationem (nominative exacerbatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin exacerbare "exasperate, irritate, provoke," from ex, here probably "thoroughly" (see ex-), + acerbus "harsh, bitter," from acer "sharp, keen," from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce." Oldest use in English is Biblical, in reference to the Provocation in the Wilderness.

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waste (n.)
c. 1200, "desolate regions," from Anglo-French and Old North French wast "waste, damage, destruction; wasteland, moor" (Old French gast), from Latin vastum, neuter of vastus "empty, desolate," from PIE *wasto-, extended suffixed form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out."

Replaced or merged with Old English westen, woesten "a desert, wilderness," from the Latin word. Meanings "consumption, depletion," also "useless expenditure" are from c. 1300; sense of "refuse matter" is attested from c. 1400. Waste basket first recorded 1850.
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