Desert or Dessert?

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. correct tick
    • Don't desert me! correct tick
  • Dessert. "Dessert" is the sweet course at the end of a meal. For example:
    • I'll have apple pie and custard for dessert. correct tick
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"


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. correct tick
  • ("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. correct tick
  • ("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. correct tick
  • If you desert, you will be shot when you're caught. correct tick
  • ("Desert" is a verb in these examples.)

(3) To leave behind

  • As soon as the bell went, the kids deserted the building. correct tick
  • ("Desert" is a verb in this example.)


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? correct tick

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.)
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.