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Derelict as an adjective is used to describe someone or something that has been forsaken or abandoned. In terms of personal property, property is derelict if it has been abandoned by the owner with no intent to ever reclaim the property (e.g. a ship deserted at sea). It should be noted that there must be an external action to abandon and an intention to do so as well. The intention to abandon may be voluntary or it may be presumed from surrounding circumstances. This question of intention is oftentimes a question of fact for the jury.

As a noun, derelict generally refers to a ship or personal property that has been abandoned. Property discovered in a derelict state has significance regarding laws of salvage. If a property is in a derelict state, it is deemed to be more dangerous which is reflected in a higher reward for the salvor. 

See also: Dereliction.

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]