Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Desert and Dessert

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between desert and dessert?

Desert means arid land or to abandon.
Dessert is the sweet course at the end of a meal.

Desert or Dessert?

The words desert and dessert look similar, but they are very different in meaning.


A dessert is typically the final course of a meal. It is usually sweet (e.g., ice cream, cake, pudding).
  • Would you like to see the dessert menu?

An example of a dessert


The word desert can be an adjective, noun, or verb. It has the following meanings:

Arid land with little or no vegetation.

The Sahara Desert
  • The plants and animals possess special features which allow them to cope with the desert conditions.
  • (Desert is an adjective in this example.)
  • An ice desert is defined as a polar area that supports little or no vegetation and that is permanently covered by snow and ice.
  • (Desert is a noun in this example.)
To abandon or to defect or to leave in the lurch.
  • If disturbed too often, the adult birds will desert the fledglings.
  • If you desert, you will be shot when you're caught.
  • (Desert is a verb in these examples.)
To leave behind.
  • As soon as the bell went, the kids deserted the building.
  • (Desert is a verb in this example.)

Top Tip

Remembering Dessert

Here is an excellent way of remembering the difference between dessert and desert:

When you're stressed, you eat cake, chocolate, and sweets because 'stressed' is 'desserts' backwards.

(Yeah, I know. It's brilliant, isn't it?)
Interactive Test
Top Tip

Dessert Is Twice As Good

Here are some ways to remember desert and dessert:
  • Dessert is twice as good as desert.
  • Desert = Sahara
  • Dessert = Strawberry shortcake.