abandon , forsake , desert : To abandon is to give up entirely, as home and friends, and implies previous association with responsibility for or control; to forsake is to leave or withdraw from a person or place, and suggests previous association with inclination or attachment. Abandon and forsake may be used in a favorable or unfavorable sense. Desert is to leave permanently and especially without regard for the person or thing deserted; it is used only in an unfavorable sense and usually implies a breach of duty.

Some writers assert that desert is used only “of causes or persons but not of things.” This is erroneous. There is ample evidence of its correct application to things; as the soldier deserts his colors; the sailor deserts his ship.

Tout est à l'abandon = Everything is at sixes and sevens, in utter neglect, in confusion.

[Also: Tout va à la dérive.]