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de·​sire di-ˈzī(-ə)r How to pronounce desire (audio)
desired; desiring

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

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


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: 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
: longing, craving
teenagers' desire for independence
… the inexpensive homebuilt craft that satisfy many people's desire to flyJames Fallows
: sexual urge or appetite
: something longed or hoped for : something desired
You are my heart's desire.
: a usually formal request or petition for some action
at the desire of one fifth of those presentU.S. Constitution
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 in 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
But his current year has left a lot to be desired, as Vaughn floated Thomas in and out of the starting lineup due to defensive inabilities and more specifically his efficiency numbers. Tyler Small, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 As impressive as output may be, the vehicle’s 246-mile range leaves something to be desired, especially by today’s standards. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 20 Feb. 2024 The lyrical battle between her own pride and her desire for connection and yearning to be wanted and desired come to a head in the lush instrumental break that simultaneously serves as the song’s bridge and outro — talk about a stunner. Kyle Denis, Billboard, 20 Feb. 2024 With no indication of having consulted China, Russia opted to ignore United Nations trade sanctions (which both China and Russia had signed on to) and sell North Korea the advanced military technology its leaders have long desired. Oriana Skylar Mastro, Foreign Affairs, 19 Feb. 2024 Soup beans are pinto beans that have been simmered with water, salt, pepper, and—if desired—ham. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, 13 Feb. 2024 The exit from President Xi’s disastrous zero-Covid policy left a lot to be desired, while his regulatory crackdown on tech companies has shaken investor confidence. Desmond Lachman, National Review, 13 Feb. 2024 As for the bottom two, Ru selected Q, whose dancing left something to be desired, and Amanda Tori Meating, whose pussycat wig runway look fell short in the judges’ estimations. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 6 Feb. 2024 The league title is arguably the trophy the club desires the most. Zayn Nabbi, CNN, 6 Feb. 2024
There's no desire to hold people accountable for their crimes in the city of New York. Michael Dorgan, Fox News, 9 Feb. 2024 Monetizing children for content can border on exploitation, and prioritize parents’ desires for likes, shares, and comments, over a child's well-being and privacy. Melissa Willets, Parents, 9 Feb. 2024 Forget the fact that nearly every expert insists that flexible work arrangements—guided principally by employee desires—are the way of the future. Jane Thier, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024 The decision to acquire ATEC was driven by Armada's desire to diversify and strengthen its supply chain solutions portfolio. Brooke Zangaro, Charlotte Observer, 9 Feb. 2024 To get back into a space where desire is more regular, Fox recommends setting aside time when you and your partner will be physically connected. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, 8 Feb. 2024 He is driven by the desire to avenge his sister who committed suicide after suffering a violent act, images of which wound up on the internet. Nick Vivarelli, Variety, 7 Feb. 2024 This decision was fueled by two desires: to maintain the 2022 cease-fire that had paused Yemen’s civil war and to prevent the conflict in Gaza from spreading across the region. Noam Raydan, Foreign Affairs, 6 Feb. 2024 Motivated by a desire to protect voting rights and advocate for fair elections, some of the briefs are written by lawyers on behalf of themselves or interested family members, like Larry Coben and his father. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 6 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'desire.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Noun

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

First Known Use


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near desire

Cite this Entry

“Desire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
de·​sire di-ˈzī(ə)r How to pronounce desire (audio)
desired; desiring
: to long for : wish earnestly
desire wealth
desire peace
: to call for : express a wish for : request
the librarian desires us to return all overdue books


2 of 2 noun
: a strong wish : longing
also : the mental power or ability to experience desires
: an expressed wish : request
: something desired

Legal Definition


transitive verb
desired; desiring
: 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on desire

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