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

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 If there’s one knock against Stroud’s game, it’s that his ability — and sometimes desire — to make plays with his legs is often non-existent. Stephen Means, cleveland, 13 May 2022 And the will and desire to win in one field can easily transfer to another. Dalton Ross,, 12 May 2022 Blazers coach Chauncey Billups praised Johnson for his defensive abilities and desire to compete at that end of the court. oregonlive, 9 May 2022 There is also a fitness center with a private movement studio for residents who seek more privacy during their workouts or desire a personal trainer. Emma Reynolds, Robb Report, 6 Apr. 2022 Despite an uptick in infections driven by the BA.2 subvariant of omicron, most countries like New Zealand have gone ahead with plans to relax pandemic curbs buoyed by lower hospitalization rates and desire to revive tourism. Mumbi Gitau,, 30 Mar. 2022 What will your future customers desire five years from now? Expert Panel®, Forbes, 19 Jan. 2022 The Braves, however, failed to tempt him with a better offer, leaving Freeman torn between his allegiance to Atlanta and desire for his preferred structure of a deal. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 19 Mar. 2022 Meanwhile, businesses across the country are struggling to navigate employees’ lingering concerns about COVID-19 and desire for the flexibility of working from home. Zeke Miller,, 2 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun While people care about these issues, there is not always an immediate desire to change our consumption, waste, and land-use behaviors. Baltimore Sun, 17 May 2022 In situations where leverage is high or there is a desire for a rapid exit, management is always under persistent pressure to perform. David W. Mccombie Iii, Forbes, 16 May 2022 The key to ending this war was the desire and ability of combative private interests to lay down their arms and negotiate. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2022 Even when language skills and education are deficient, there is a tremendous desire to contribute to the economy and build better lives. Elena Kvochko, Fortune, 3 May 2022 Among the themes that are explored by the project is the desire to challenge the idea that seems to dictate that a woman affected by an illness or disability shall lose that healthy female vanity that is in every woman. Vogue, 29 Apr. 2022 Part of this was an artist’s desire to avoid self-repetition. Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone, 23 Apr. 2022 What may be an obstacle is the NBA’s desire to secure another warm-weather city. Gary Washburn,, 23 Apr. 2022 There is also a desire to make sure that scientific endeavor is maximized as humans return to the moon through NASA's Artemis program, collecting lunar samples and setting up instruments on the surface that can reveal more about its history. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 19 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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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

25 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Desire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for desire


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.


transitive verb
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.

More from Merriam-Webster on desire

Nglish: Translation of desire for Spanish Speakers

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


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