ETYM Old Eng. wildernesse, wilderne,probably from AS. wildor a wild beast; cf. Dutch wildernis wilderness. Related to Wilder.
A wild and uninhabited area; SYN. wild.
Area of uninhabited land which has never been disturbed by humans, which is usually located some distance from towns and cities. According to estimates by US group Conservation International, 52% (90 million sq km) of the Earth's total land area was still undisturbed 1994.
In the US wilderness areas are specially designated by Congress and protected by federal agencies; some are “forever wild”.