desire

1 of 2

verb

de·​sire di-ˈzī(-ə)r How to pronounce desire (audio)
dē-
desired; desiring

transitive verb

1
: to long or hope for : exhibit or feel desire for
desire success
knew that men still desired her
2
a
: 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.

desire

2 of 2

noun

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
2
a
: 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 present U.S. Constitution
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

Example Sentences

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 in 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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Perhaps his billionaire lifestyle has led him to desire new stimulation, and that comes in the form of owning one of the largest social media companies in the world. Prem Thakker, The New Republic, 16 Nov. 2022 More than half of all people who desire hormone therapy but don’t receive it report suicidal thoughts. Ky Henderson, Rolling Stone, 17 Oct. 2022 Named after the idea that a candle never loses its flame by lighting another, Candlelit Therapy also seeks to support women who desire motherhood. Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence, 10 Oct. 2022 While yes, some people desire a house with many rooms and private spaces, our family’s top priority is to cultivate an atmosphere for connection, gathering, and making others feel welcome. Sunset Magazine, 14 Oct. 2022 You could get lost in mountains of bathmats and cutlery and GoodGrips and every As Seen On TV device your little 30-something heart could desire. Allison Morrow, CNN, 31 Aug. 2022 In business, most team members desire and seek a better life through peer acceptance and acknowledged contributions: earned promotions and rising income. Peter Weedfald, Forbes, 30 June 2022 Berg: 37% of seniors do not go on to attend college after graduation, and not all desire to. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 16 Mar. 2022 Remote video monitoring cameras: Both HOAs and members often desire these low-cost devices. Kelly G. Richardson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Sep. 2022
Noun
What lingers instead is its vision and its focus on the power of the dreamer, the experience of longing for peace, the desire for everlasting love and the possibility of being in concert with nature. Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2022 According to Ticketmaster, the desire for Swift’s tickets smote all records and reasonable expectations. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 18 Nov. 2022 Much of the cast, which includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Shailene Woodley, have been vocal about a desire for a season 3. Jessica Wang, EW.com, 16 Nov. 2022 The demand for Champagne echoes a larger desire for luxury goods across the board. Tori Latham, Robb Report, 15 Nov. 2022 The journey continues to exist in reality but, with technology, the physical boundaries of the real experience are being transcended, and gaming has become a means of fulfilling a desire for adventure and escaping the ordinary. Vogue, 15 Nov. 2022 Research has shown that major stressful events can increase people’s desire for connection and commitment—and that romantic relationships can buffer against anxiety. Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, 15 Nov. 2022 The anger and hatred many Romanians feel towards their political elite has resulted not only in a strong sense of individualism, but also in the desire among many for a better life abroad. Ed Meza, Variety, 14 Nov. 2022 Russia’s push to capture Bakhmut demonstrates the Kremlin’s desire for visible gains following weeks of setbacks. Time, 12 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French desirer, from Latin desiderare, from de- + sider-, sidus heavenly body

First Known Use

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of desire was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near desire

Cite this Entry

“Desire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/desire. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

desire 1 of 2

verb

de·​sire di-ˈzī(ə)r How to pronounce desire (audio)
desired; desiring
1
: to long for : wish earnestly
desire wealth
desire peace
2
: to call for : express a wish for : request
the librarian desires us to return all overdue books

desire

2 of 2

noun

1
: a strong wish : longing
also : the mental power or ability to experience desires
2
: an expressed wish : request
3
: something desired

Legal Definition

desire

transitive verb

de·​sire
desired; desiring
: 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on desire

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ