de·​sire | \ di-ˈzī(-ə)r How to pronounce desire (audio) , 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 1 sense 1) 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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Examples of desire in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun 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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Colts may also desire depth at wide receiver, tight end and in the defensive backfield. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, "NFL Draft 2021: How to watch all the selection rounds, plus when the Colts pick," 26 Apr. 2021 That’s a lot of visits by law enforcement, something progressives have, in other contexts, professed to desire less of. Varad Mehta, Washington Examiner, "Gun control gone Down Under," 15 Apr. 2021 Packages are stolen, never arrive or arrive in poor conditions, and now residents and employees alike desire contactless ways to receive and deliver these packages. Daniel Cunningham, Forbes, "How Proptech Can Help Multifamily Real Estate Owners Overcome Today's Challenges," 7 Apr. 2021 For anyone who does desire to erase those wrinkles from their forehead, the anti-aging market can be difficult to traverse. Tatjana Freund, Marie Claire, "Getting Rid of Forehead Wrinkles 101: A Dermatologist's Guide," 19 Mar. 2021 But that led me to desire some tradition — the love and joy of family. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "‘Punky Brewster’ star Soleil Moon Frye ‘lost sight’ of herself. Facing her darkest memories brought her back," 3 Mar. 2021 Best for: Devoted Delta flyers who desire access to high-end Delta perks to make their travels calmer and more productive. Darren Murph, CNN Underscored, "A credit card for elite Delta flyers: The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express," 24 Mar. 2021 Pederson is attracting interest for other head coaching vacancies and Carroll may not want to bring in a high-profile coach who may desire complete control of the offense. oregonlive, "10 names the Seattle Seahawks should consider for offensive coordinator," 14 Jan. 2021 Truth is, as long as most of us desire modern conveniences, what is in Line 3's pipeline will be needed to drive, cook, heat our homes, fly on planes and manufacture products. Mike Fernandez, Star Tribune, "Counterpoint: Poetry and fiction don't tell the whole Line 3 story," 10 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Participants in the Kaiser Permanente study expressed a desire for more information. oregonlive, "New study shows almost all people who responded to survey reported harmful effects of tear gas at Portland protests," 28 Apr. 2021 In past hearings, Ingham expressed Spears' desire to remove her father as a co-conservator and has pushed for more transparency in court. Zoe Christen Jones, CBS News, "Britney Spears to address court overseeing her conservatorship," 28 Apr. 2021 Her friends and family say Stoltzfoos was happy with her life and never expressed any desire to leave. Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner, "Humans remains found during search for missing Amish woman," 22 Apr. 2021 Scherer has continually expressed a desire to bring the case in front of a jury. Brooke Baitinger,, "Trial for Parkland school shooter could start in September," 22 Apr. 2021 Prosecutors said no sign of her has been found since, and friends and family report that Stoltzfoos was happy with her life and had never expressed any desire to leave. Frank Miles, Fox News, "PA police find human remains in search for missing Amish woman," 22 Apr. 2021 Last year in the wake of Floyd’s murder, both Republicans and Democrats expressed a desire to work together on the issue of police reform, only to see the efforts fall by the wayside. Alana Abramson, Time, "'A Giant Step Forward.' Joe Biden Pledges Police Reform After Derek Chauvin's Guilty Verdict," 21 Apr. 2021 The Treasury Department and Federal Reserve have expressed a desire to better understand risks to financial stability emanating from climate change. Paul Kiernan, WSJ, "U.S. Treasury Creates Climate Hub to Coordinate Policy," 19 Apr. 2021 At the time, parents expressed a desire for the school to host a formal prom. Steve Schering,, "In lieu of prom, OPRF High School seniors to get Six Flags Great America celebration," 16 Apr. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about desire

Time Traveler for desire

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for desire

Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Desire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for desire



English Language Learners Definition of desire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

somewhat formal : to want or wish for (something) : to feel desire for (something)
: to want to have sex with (someone)
formal : 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 How to pronounce desire (audio) \
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.

Choose the Right Synonym for desire


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.

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!