de·​sire | \ di-ˈzī(-ə)r, dē-\
desired; desiring

Definition of desire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to long or hope for : exhibit or feel desire for desire success knew that men still desired her
2a : to express a wish for : request they desire an immediate answer
b archaic : to express a wish to : ask desired them to reconsider
3 obsolete : invite
4 archaic : to feel the loss of

intransitive verb

: to have or feel desire They may come if they so desire.



Definition of desire (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : conscious impulse (see impulse entry 2 sense 3) toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment ridding oneself of all desires how humans process desire
2a : longing, craving teenagers' desire for independence … the inexpensive homebuilt craft that satisfy many people's desire to fly— James Fallows
b : sexual urge or appetite
3 : something longed or hoped for : something desired You are my heart's desire.
4 : a usually formal request or petition for some action at the desire of one fifth of those presentU.S. Constitution

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Choose the Right Synonym for desire


desire, wish, want, crave, covet mean to have a longing for. desire stresses the strength of feeling and often implies strong intention or aim. desires to start a new life wish sometimes implies a general or transient longing especially for the unattainable. wishes for permanent world peace want specifically suggests a felt need or lack. wants to have a family crave stresses the force of physical appetite or emotional need. craves sweets covet implies strong envious desire. covets his rise to fame


desire, wish, and crave mean to want something very much. desire is used when a person has a great feeling for and actually strives to get what is wanted. The immigrants desired a better life. wish is used when a person wants something that he or she has little or no chance of getting. He foolishly sat around and wished for wealth. crave is used for the force of physical or mental needs. The hungry dogs craved food.

Examples of desire in a Sentence


He desired her approval more than anything. The apartment has modern amenities, a great location—everything you could desire. She knew that men still desired her.


Desire is a common theme is music and literature. The magazine tries to attend to the needs and desires of its readers. Both sides feel a real desire for peace. His decisions are guided by his desire for land. They expressed a desire to go with us. They have a desire to have children. a strong desire to travel around the world He was overcome with desire for her.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The PlayStation Classic's quality of emulation left something to be desired. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Our favorite (and least favorite) tech of 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 And yet, the expected flower arrangement or bottle of wine can leave something to be desired. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "The 11 Best Beauty Gifts for Your Thanksgiving Host," 20 Nov. 2018 Regarded as one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA, the former Celtic leaves a bit to be desired on the shooting end of things (his .366 career mark is three points lower than what Covington shot from deep last season). David Murphy,, "LeBron James or not, Sixers will have to fill these two needs | David Murphy," 6 June 2018 This means you'll—at last—have the ability to watch Carrie whack Mr. Big with a wedding bouquet as many times as your heart desires. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Coming to Netflix in November 2018: Be Thankful These 97 Titles Are Coming to Your Queue," 29 Oct. 2018 Decorate the outer sleeve of the box with paint, cut-out letters and paper as desired. Lara Sorokanich, Popular Mechanics, "4 Great Halloween Costumes From the PM Archives," 11 Oct. 2018 As the name implies, the First Tracks van is built to chase snow in the winter, while other custom builds focus on whatever activity your heart desires. Megan Barber, Curbed, "7 van conversion companies that can build your dream camper," 24 Sep. 2018 Add vanilla or other flavoring (and gel food coloring if desired), and mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Alison Roman, The Seattle Times, "‘We are all connected by cookies’: A tribe with a bond stronger than royal icing," 12 Dec. 2018 Yes, in his early 20s, Tarek hustled hard enough to move not just out of his mother's garage and into an apartment, but to wherever his heart desired (within the casual $1 mil range, that is). Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need To Know On How Flip Or Flop Came To Be, According To Tarek El Moussa," 24 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Plenty of designers and brands tapping into those dueling desires. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, "This Shapeshifting Clock Changes Design As It Approaches Noon," 9 Jan. 2019 Well, this desire makes sense from a biological standpoint. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Why Do Couples Hold Hands?," 4 Jan. 2019 There's a key moment that Jemison has talked about in interviews and in her own book about how one of her school teachers dismissed Jemison's desire to be an astronaut. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Without question, these are 2018’s best space books for kids," 29 Dec. 2018 Gritty, for whatever reason, speaks to the desire to have a loud voice fighting on the side of those who demand a larger piece of the pie. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Gritty’s evolution from googly-eyed hockey mascot to meme to leftist avatar, explained," 24 Dec. 2018 Perhaps the desire to invest in climate action will spur changes that solve a host of other urban problems. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "As cities confront climate change, is density the answer?," 11 Dec. 2018 According to an international industry research report, that desire has turned into dollars: the anti-aging market was worth $215 billion in 2016, and it's predicted to become a $331 billion empire by 2021. Amy Capetta, Woman's Day, "5 Anti-Aging Supplements That May Actually Work," 16 Oct. 2018 In the past decade, there’s been an obvious shift in the hospitality industry–the desire for a unique and local experience among travelers has increased drastically–and services are adapting. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Three San Diego Bungalows Are Transformed Into Vibrant, History-Filled Getaways," 3 Oct. 2018 The arrival of Thanksgiving brings that unshakeable desire to curl up by a fire with some hot cocoa and get lost in feel-good holiday programming. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "The Best Holiday Specials and Movies Airing on TV This Thanksgiving," 18 Nov. 2018

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

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First Known Use of desire


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for desire

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French desirer, from Latin desiderare, from de- + sider-, sidus heavenly body

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Statistics for desire

Last Updated

17 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for desire

The first known use of desire was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for desire



English Language Learners Definition of desire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to want or wish for (something) : to feel desire for (something)

: to want to have sex with (someone)

: to express a wish for (something)



English Language Learners Definition of desire (Entry 2 of 2)

: the feeling of wanting something

: a strong wish : a wish for something or to do something

: a feeling of wanting to have sex with someone


de·​sire | \ di-ˈzīr \
desired; desiring

Kids Definition of desire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to long for : wish for in earnest Both sides desire peace.
2 : to express a wish for : request The council desires an immediate response.



Kids Definition of desire (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a strong wish : longing a desire for companionship
2 : something longed for It was his heart's desire to return home.
desired; desiring

Legal Definition of desire

: to wish for earnestly — see also precatory

Note: Courts have variously interpreted desire in wills to indicate either a direction of the testator that must be followed or merely an expression of what the testator hoped would happen.

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More from Merriam-Webster on desire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with desire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for desire

Spanish Central: Translation of desire

Nglish: Translation of desire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of desire for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about desire

Comments on desire

What made you want to look up desire? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
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