1590s, "abandonment, state of being forsaken or abandoned" (formerly with a wider range than in modern use, such as of the sea withdrawing from the land), from Latin derelictionem (nominative derelictio) "an abandoning; a disregarding, neglecting," noun of action from past-participle stem of derelinquere (see derelict).
Sense of "act of leaving with an intention not to reclaim or reuse" is from 1610s. Meaning "failure, unfaithfulness, neglect" (with regard to duty, etc.) is by 1778. Phrase dereliction of duty attested from 1776.