desire line


variants or desire path
plural desire lines or desire paths
: an unplanned route or path (such as one worn into a grassy surface by repeated foot traffic) that is used by pedestrians in preference to or in the absence of a designated alternative (such as a paved pathway)
There's a concept in landscape architecture called a desire line. It refers to a path worn into the ground by foot traffic, in defiance of the planned curves of sidewalks and roadways.Henry Grabar
This is the authoritarian approach to erasing a desire line: block it off with some type of obstacle—a fence, a bush, a pile of brush, a sharply (if, in this case, politely) worded sign.Robert Moor
The proposed fence would not enclose the parking lot, only limit its use as a desire path.Zachary Oren Smith

Examples of desire line in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web County staff had recommended paving the trail, which was referred to as a desire line: an unofficial path created by humans traveling the shortest distance between two points. John Kelly, Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2023

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

Word History

First Known Use

1993, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of desire line was in 1993

Dictionary Entries Near desire line

Cite this Entry

“Desire line.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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