de·​sid·​er·​a·​tum | \ di-ˌsi-də-ˈrä-təm How to pronounce desideratum (audio) , -ˌzi-, -ˈrā- How to pronounce desideratum (audio) \
plural desiderata\ di-​ˌsi-​də-​ˈrä-​tə How to pronounce desideratum (audio) , -​ˌzi-​ , -​ˈrā-​ \

Definition of desideratum

: something desired as essential detached individuality does not seem to be a desideratum of the Vedantic mind— Robert Bierstedt

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We'd like to introduce you to some close cousins of the common word desire. All trace their roots to the Latin sīder-, or sīdus, which has historically been understood to mean "heavenly body," but which may also have an older, non-celestial meaning of "mark, target, goal." Whether etymologically starry or grounded, dēsīderāre, meaning "to long for," was born when Latin de- was prefixed to sīder-. Dēsīderāre begat Anglo-French desirer, which in turn brought forth English desire, desirous, and desirable in the 13th and 14th centuries, with desideration following in the 15th. Then, in the 17th century, English acquired desiderate ("to wish for") and desideratum (desiderata in the plural), all of which can lay claim to direct ancestry from desiderare.

Examples of desideratum in a Sentence

a list of political desiderata
Recent Examples on the Web Diversity isn’t necessarily an ethical desideratum in a collection. New York Times, 28 Sep. 2021 But there’s another overall desideratum: The system has to be straightforward enough to be managed easily — to get large numbers of people vaccinated as swiftly as possible. Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, 23 Feb. 2021 Remaining at home is invariably the desideratum for most among the elderly, and this includes the wish to die at home. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, 17 Jan. 2020 We marketing teams came to believe we alone could save startups from untimely deaths by achieving the desideratum to end all desiderata: product/market fit. Wired, 22 Oct. 2019 Airports supply the greatest desideratum of physical retail: foot traffic. Daniel Gross, Slate Magazine, 7 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desideratum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of desideratum

1652, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for desideratum

Latin, neuter of desideratus — see desiderate

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The first known use of desideratum was in 1652

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Cite this Entry

“Desideratum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2022.

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