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

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 The cottage industry is fueled by residents’ growing devotion to their animals — increasingly a replacement for children — and desire for companionship during the pandemic. Washington Post, "Taiwan’s pet psychics gain ground with animal lovers looking for a connection," 29 Mar. 2021 What a great message to send to people, as employee development is at the top of the list of what employees most desire from their employers. Roberta Matuson, Forbes, "Emerging Stronger From The Pandemic," 18 Mar. 2021 The Board will have to understand that some families may continue to desire remote options. Steve Schering,, "Q&A: Oak Park District 97 school board candidates discuss issues ahead of April 6 election," 16 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 But that led me to desire some tradition — the love and joy of family. Los Angeles Times, "Soleil Moon Frye ‘lost sight’ of herself. Facing her darkest memories brought her back," 2 Mar. 2021 But the other thing to recognize here is that the press was not wrong to desire heroic leaders or institutions that Got the Pandemic Right. Ross Douthat New York Times, Star Tribune, "The twilight of the anti-Trump idols," 1 Mar. 2021 Millennials now are 10% more likely to desire perfection from themselves than young people in the late 1980s. Ella Glover,, "How I Discovered The Beauty Of Being A Beginner," 14 Feb. 2021 Customers are relying more and more on digital commerce, and desire omnichannel purchasing options—from online orders, to mobile apps, traditional sources such as EDI and much more. Patrick Moorhead, Forbes, "Microsoft’s Most Impactful Announcements At Ignite 2021," 4 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For years, being a Capitol Police officer matched Evans’s desire to work in law enforcement while maintaining a feeling of security, Rodriguez said., "‘It was not what he signed up for’: Slain Capitol Police officer loved job, but worried after insurrection," 4 Apr. 2021 Keswani, the Scripps medical director, said that there is a definite desire locally to embark on long COVID-19 research, though that kind of work needs financial backers. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Scripps, UCSD focus on “long haul” COVID-19 symptoms," 3 Apr. 2021 Like Pierre, Sallie Johnson has a longtime relationship with Holstein and an unquenchable desire to expose Detroit students to Academic Games. Scott Talley,, "Detroit educator, Academic Games coach Christopher Holstein still 'quintessential' teacher," 31 Mar. 2021 Still, the movie has garnered critical and popular acclaim, highlighting that there is a new desire and appetite for better understanding about the Panthers and Hampton himself. NBC News, "Why Hollywood is finally trying to tell slain Black Panther Fred Hampton's story," 31 Mar. 2021 Nothing shows a commitment to world heritage and an honest desire for communication like a snotty list of paper-thin arguments and technicalities. Georgia Garvey,, "Column: Greeks, get crafty and get those Parthenon Marbles back," 22 Mar. 2021 The Credit Karma deal was more than six times Intuit’s next-largest acquisition and was driven by the company’s desire to expand its financial service offerings to consumers. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, "Intuit Needs Good Karma," 20 Mar. 2021 People high in self-actualization are fueled by an inner desire to keep learning and growing. Roberta Moore, Forbes, "Why Leaders Should Perform An Internal Audit After A Crisis And How To Do It Effectively," 18 Mar. 2021 Undoubtedly there is a desire to get back to normality as quickly as possible. Popular Science, "COVID-19 ‘vaccine passports’ could set a troubling precedent," 16 Mar. 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.

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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

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Desire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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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.

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