des·​sert | \ di-ˈzərt How to pronounce dessert (audio) \

Definition of dessert

1 : a usually sweet course or dish (as of pastry or ice cream) usually served at the end of a meal
2 British : a fresh fruit served after a sweet course

Where does the phrase just deserts come from?

Why do we say that someone has gotten their just deserts? Does this turn of phrase have anything to do with dessert (“a sweet food eaten at the end of a meal”) or desert (“a dry land with few plants and little rainfall”)? In fact, the phrase employs neither of these words. Instead, it uses a completely unrelated word that happens to be pronounced like the word for sweets and spelled like the one for a dry place: desert, meaning “reward or punishment deserved or earned by one’s qualities or acts.” This little-used noun is, as you might have guessed, related to the English verb deserve. It has nothing to do with arid, dry land, or with cookies and ice cream.

Examples of dessert in a Sentence

She doesn't care for rich desserts. Coffee and tea will be served with dessert. We had ice cream and apple pie for dessert.
Recent Examples on the Web The news about his dessert reached him at the same time as millions of people who have eaten one. Ben Cohen, WSJ, 29 July 2022 So does one dessert, chocolate chunk cookie pizza, which sells for $8 and has chocolate chunk cookie dough, ricotta, chocolate drizzle and powdered sugar, on a little crust. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 26 July 2022 For ice cream lovers who like a bit of a bite to their velvety dessert, one of Booza's most popular flavors is the ashta with pistachio, with nut pieces already blended in. Megha Mcswain, Chron, 19 July 2022 Using the recipe as a guide, your creamy, frozen, appliance-free dessert options are endless. Kendra Vaculin, Bon Appétit, 18 July 2022 It’s a pleasingly clever dessert, which is what so many of these movies are, though in this case without the tony literary pedigree. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 1 July 2022 Dishing Out Health Complete with a gluten-free almond flour crust and date syrup drizzle, these mini cheesecakes are a much healthier choice than your typical Halloween dessert. Corinne Sullivan, Woman's Day, 27 June 2022 Tickets are $85 per person and include four wines from Italy (presented by Michael Selzer of Private Reserve Wines), appetizers, buffet dinner, and dessert (provided by Amalu Home Bakery). cleveland, 26 June 2022 Flan con mezcal and tres leches cake are dessert options. Georgann Yara, The Arizona Republic, 16 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dessert.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of dessert

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dessert

Middle French, from desservir to clear the table, from des- de- + servir to serve, from Latin servire

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Time Traveler for dessert

Time Traveler

The first known use of dessert was in 1600

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Dictionary Entries Near dessert



dessert fork

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Statistics for dessert

Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dessert.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for dessert


des·​sert | \ di-ˈzərt How to pronounce dessert (audio) \

Kids Definition of dessert

: a sweet food eaten at the end of a meal


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