Does the meaning of word “deserted” include a sense of being dangerous?

Does “secluded” imply that a place is peaceful and not so dangerous?

Can you give me examples from which I would be able to differentiate between the connotations of these two words?

I’m specifically interested in the movie Eden Lake (2008). Would you call the lake in that movie a secluded place or a deserted place?

Nursery teacher Jenny and her boyfriend Steve, escape for a romantic weekend away. Steve, planning to propose, has found an idyllic setting: a remote lake enclosed by woodlands and seemingly deserted.
Source: IMDb, Eden Lake (2008) – Storyline

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    A secluded beach is accessible, but only if you know how to get there. A deserted beach has no people on it. A secluded beach may also be deserted, and indeed, often is, because it's so hard to find that few people even know it's there. But some people so, so it's not always deserted (what people do on a secluded beach they think is hidden from the eyes of others, I'll leave to your imagination). If a beach is permanently deserted, it's typically because it's completely inaccessible, perhaps because it's on a desert isle. – Dan Bron Oct 23 '14 at 10:01
  • I've never seen the movie, but I like your differentiation. – J.R. Oct 23 '14 at 12:34
  • This is General Reference. Secluded: (Of a place) not seen or visited by many people; sheltered and private. Deserted: (Of a place) empty of people. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 23 '14 at 14:13
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    @FumbleFingers Given the upvotes and variety of interpretations in answers so far, I’m inclined to disagree. – Tyler James Young Oct 23 '14 at 17:40
  • I don't see a variety of interpretations. I see extended discussions of the definitions of two fairly distinct words saying essentially the same things in different ways. The question itself doesn't explain why the dictionary definitions aren't sufficient to differentiate the words, so all the explanation here is simply guessing at the source of the asker's confusion. – ColleenV parted ways Oct 23 '14 at 19:39

That's a nice question. The two are pretty similar, in that they describe an unoccupied location, but they are not quite the same.

When we say a place is "secluded," we mean that that place is not often occupied because it is "out of the way," or hard to get to, or sometimes just not well-known. I don't think peace or danger has anything to do with it. For example, when you hear about crime stories, you often hear that the murderer hid the evidence in a secluded location. But from a tourism perspective, where many tourists don't want to be surrounded by other tourists, finding a secluded spot is a positive.

When we say that a place is "deserted," we literally mean that the place used to be occupied, but that it no longer is occupied. A synonym for this literal meaning is "abandoned." However, "deserted" can sometimes be used metaphorically to mean that there aren't very many people somewhere. In this case it is a synonym for "unoccupied" and need not be negative. From a tourism perspective, it could be negative or positive, but is usually negative. For example, "we were excited to go to the state fair, but when we got there, it was deserted"-- this suggests there was nobody there and it was no fun.

A tourist agency may emphasize that a beach is secluded to tell you that it will be a nice place to go. In this case, "secluded" will be used more often than deserted, because deserted implies that people are leaving the beach for some reason, and the tourist agency might not want you to ask why! But again "deserted" doesn't have to be negative here, and I can see a tourist agency using either to describe a beach.


A deserted beach is one with no people on it now. The beach might have had people earlier in the day, but who have gone. They might return again tomorrow. They might not. We cannot say why it is deserted. The word alone does not give us any clue. "Abandoned" (in the sense left for good, forever) is too strong a word. There are no undertones of "danger" (unless supplied by other adjacent phrases).

A secluded beach, as the other answers have said, means "somewhat hidden, not easy to reach, sheltered, not readily accessible from the road", and thus one that is never (over)crowded with people....unless your idea of (over)crowded is "anyone else".


This is an old question, but I don't think anyone truly answered it. People gave good definitions but the real question was about the usage in the Eden Lake storyline.

"Secluded" definitely has a positive tone. It means that you rarely run into people somewhere. It indicates that the speaker likes the privacy.

"Deserted" means that no one is there now (usually it means everyone left). It can have a neutral or negative tone.

The key is that the author writes "seemingly deserted". The author is saying that appearances were wrong. The word "seemingly" is effectively reversing the meaning of the word after it. The opposite of deserted is "there's at least one person there now", the opposite of secluded would be "no privacy because lots of people constantly go there".

Steve planned a romantic trip. The lake is usually deserted. Steve would have called the lake secluded because he desired romantic privacy.

Then Steve and Jenny went to the lake. At this point the author tells us the lake was "seemingly deserted", and tells us the lake was not actually deserted on that day. The gang was there. It would make no sense if the author said "seemingly secluded" because there is no doubt that it was secluded. The lake is always secluded, even after Steve met the gang. There was still little chance that anyone else would go there. The gang still valued the secluded privacy, they could attack Steve&Jenny without interference. (Although at this point it would be weird for Steve or Jenny to use the word secluded, you only use the word when you view the privacy as desirable.)


Secluded means (of a place) not seen or visited by many people; sheltered and private.

It also means keep (someone) away from other people.

Synonyms: sheltered, private, concealed, hidden, unfrequented, sequestered, tucked away


Deserted means abandon (a person, cause, or organization) in a way considered disloyal or treacherous (of a number of people) leave (a place), causing it to appear empty.

Synonyms: empty, uninhabited, unoccupied, unpeopled, abandoned

So a secluded beach is a uncommon place, but a deserted beach is intentionally left due to some reasons.

So this makes clear the thing clear.

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    When giving dictionary definitions, you should at least indicate which definition applies to the example; you give the definition of 'desert' which applies to for example the military; people aren't loyal to a beach! – Sanchises Oct 23 '14 at 12:25
  • Thanks for the suggestion @sanchises , i will edit my answer. – Manan Gupta Oct 23 '14 at 12:26

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