des·​sert di-ˈzərt How to pronounce dessert (audio)
: a usually sweet course or dish (as of pastry or ice cream) usually served at the end of a meal
British : a fresh fruit served after a sweet course

Did you know?

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 For dessert, make a watermelon slushy: Puree frozen chunks of watermelon in a food processor until smooth. Andrews McMeel Syndication,, 19 June 2024 Don’t forget to get the crab beignets, and limoncello for dessert! Essence, 18 June 2024 Kulfi falooda sundae or gulab jamun cheesecake are for dessert. Georgann Yara, The Arizona Republic, 18 June 2024 While famous for its burgers and fries, the churros are a must for dessert. Elise Taylor, Vogue, 16 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for dessert 

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

Word History


borrowed from French, going back to Middle French desserte "food cleared from the table (in the phrase desserte des més), course served at the end of the meal," derivative of desservir "to clear the table (of food, dishes)," from des- dis- + servir "to serve entry 1"

Note: Middle French desserte is apparently formed by analogy with desert from deservir—see note at desert entry 4.

First Known Use

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dessert was in 1600

Dictionary Entries Near dessert

Cite this Entry

“Dessert.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


des·​sert di-ˈzərt How to pronounce dessert (audio)
: a course of usually sweet food, fruit, or cheese usually served at the end of a meal
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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