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

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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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But anyone with a cellphone camera can use the zoom function to magnify the contact sheet images if desired. Steven Litt, cleveland, "‘Proof’ at Cleveland Museum of Art celebrates lost art of the contact sheet in age of film roll photography," 9 Feb. 2020 Use the back of the spoon to break the jackfruit up into smaller pieces, if desired. NBC News, "Barbecue jackfruit tacos: A plant-based taco recipe even carnivores will love," 31 Jan. 2020 Just thaw at room temperature and reheat wrapped in foil for 10 minutes or until warmed through, if desired. oregonlive, "54 Super Bowl party foods for the ultimate snack-attack," 27 Jan. 2020 According to the letters, recipients have 30 days to request a hearing, if desired. Alison Steinbach, azcentral, "Gilbert HOA board may fine Val Vista Lakes residents $250 per day over critical social media posts," 23 Jan. 2020 The Ukrainians have not announced any investigations that Trump desired, including one into former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a candidate for president, and his son Hunter Biden. Daniel Chaitin, Washington Examiner, "Rachel Maddow: Documents suggest Pence played role in brokering Ukraine aid delay," 7 Jan. 2020 Top with diced avocado, cilantro, and additional goat cheese if desired. Callie Blount, al, "How to make veggie-stuffed bell peppers," 14 Nov. 2019 Residents are encouraged to bring their pets, well behaved and on a leash, to take part if desired. Laraib Hashmi, Houston Chronicle, "American Heart Association’s Annual Heart Walk set for Saturday in Woodlands," 13 Nov. 2019 The love affair with the SUV isn't going away any time soon, but there is a subset of buyers who desire something different from the glut of large boxes on wheels. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "Why the Honda e Should (but Won't) Come to the U.S.," 28 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Adamson said there's a definite desire by some residents to keep the stations there but acknowledges that businesses need those spaces open. Amelia Pak-harvey, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis mulls options for buying BlueIndy electric charging stations," 12 Feb. 2020 Express to her again your desire for more equitable conversation. Annie Lane, oregonlive, "Dear Annie: She wants a dialogue with her sister but gets the same monologue over and over," 9 Feb. 2020 Such examinations run counter to our current desire for affirmative representation. Matthew Lopez, New York Times, "What I Wanted to Say in ‘The Inheritance.’ And What I Didn’t.," 7 Feb. 2020 The film is best in its moments of conflict and the tentative understanding that emerges from them, a tribute to the writer-director’s manifest desire to press beyond the messy surface truth, with its self-evident legal parameters. Todd Mccarthy, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Charter': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 4 Feb. 2020 Throughout the documentary, Swift returns again and again to her desire to please people and be liked. Molly Longman,, "Taylor Swift Opens Up About Her Disordered Eating & How She Copes In Miss Americana," 3 Feb. 2020 The Sleep Number Dual-Temp layer covers half a bed and allows each individual sleeper to control the temperature to their desire. Gabrielle Hondorp, Popular Mechanics, "The 7 Best Mattress Toppers to Save Your Back and Your Bed," 30 Jan. 2020 Our film speaks to the human desire to belong, to find your place in life and to connect with others. Marcus Jones,, "Stars react to their 2020 Oscar nominations," 13 Jan. 2020 This alleged collaboration also points to the pair's desire to use their celebrity status to help their favorite charities and also sheds some light on how the royals plan to support themselves. Natasha Reda, Glamour, "Meghan Markle Might Voice a Disney Character for a Good Cause," 12 Jan. 2020

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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Learn More about desire

Time Traveler for desire

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for desire

Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Desire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for desire


How to pronounce desire (audio)

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.
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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