Desert or Dessert?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Desert" and "Dessert"?

"Desert" and "dessert" are easy to confuse because their spellings are so similar and English is so inconsistent with pronunciation.
  • Desert. "Desert" means "arid land" or "to abandon." For example:
    • The camels are crossing the desert.
    • Don't desert me!
  • Dessert. "Dessert" is the sweet course at the end of a meal. For example:
    • I'll have apple pie and custard for dessert.
desert or dessert?

How To Pronounce "Desert" and "Dessert"

The confusion over "desert" and "dessert" is understandable because when "desert" means "to abandon," it is pronounced like "dessert." When "desert" means "arid land," it is not pronounced like "dessert."

More about "Desert" and "Dessert"

Desert

The word "desert" can be an adjective, a noun, or a verb. "Desert" has three meanings:

(1) 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.)
(2) 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.)
(3) To leave behind.
  • As soon as the bell went, the kids deserted the building.
  • ("Desert" is a verb in this example.)

Dessert

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

Ways to Remember "Desert" and "Dessert"

  • Dessert is twice as good as desert.
  • Desert = Sahara
  • Dessert = Strawberry shortcake.
"Stressed" is "Desserts" Backwards

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

More about "Stressed" and "Desserts"

  • "Stressed" and "desserts" are anagrams. (They use the same letters.)
  • "Stressed desserts" is a palindrome. (It reads the same backwards as forwards.)

Ready for the Test?

Help Us Improve Grammar Monster

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?

Find Us Quicker!

  • When using a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing), you will find Grammar Monster quicker if you add #gm to your search term.
Next lesson >

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? List of easily confused words

Page URL