Etymology
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deserter (n.)

"one who forsakes cause, duty, party, or friends," 1630s, agent noun from desert (v.). Especially "soldier or sailor who departs from position without leave and without intent to return" (1660s).

updated on July 30, 2018

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Definitions of deserter from WordNet

deserter (n.)
a disloyal person who betrays or deserts his cause or religion or political party or friend etc.;
Synonyms: apostate / renegade / turncoat / recreant / ratter
deserter (n.)
a person who abandons their duty (as on a military post);
Synonyms: defector
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.