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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The chef was in charge of appetizers, sides and dessert, preparing dishes like jumbo white shrimp marinated with gingerroot and cilantro, and imported prosciutto with asparagus and lemon mayonnaise. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bienek was one of Milwaukee's top chefs in the 1980s, helping usher in a modern era," 18 June 2020 These dinners for two include wine, beer, or drinks, appetizers, main course, and dessert, and are available for pickup or staff delivery. The Washington Post, "Ask Tom: Dining during the pandemic," 17 June 2020 Here's how to make OREO Cookie balls, bound to be your new favorite dessert. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "OREO Red, White and Blue Cookies Are Back for a Limited-Time Only," 16 June 2020 End with the carrot cake pancakes ($11.50) as a breakfast-meets-dessert to share. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Father's Day 2020: 48 metro Phoenix restaurants with special deals for dine-in and takeout," 15 June 2020 Also, 12 Cuts welcomes donations of nonperishable food for the Storehouse and will honor all donations with a complimentary dessert. Dallas News, "Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants offering Father’s Day specials," 13 June 2020 On the one hand, the two Canadian pilots who generously included him in their competition to get through the first-class dessert menu were experienced and relaxed. The Economist, "Lexington How Pennsylvania’s governor is battling the pandemic," 11 June 2020 That extra touch makes these muffins more than just a way to use up bananas and transforms them into a breakfast that’s as delicious as dessert. cleveland, "Tired of banana bread but still want to bake? Try fluffy muffins instead," 8 June 2020 Dessert Story, an Asian dessert cafe with multiple Bay Area locations that’s especially popular on Instagram for its elaborate presentations. Janelle Bitker,, "San Francisco’s new Le Moon Thai Eatery offers alternative take on Thai," 5 June 2020

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.

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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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Statistics for dessert

Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dessert.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for dessert


How to pronounce dessert (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dessert

: sweet food eaten after the main part of a meal


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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