Dessert vs desert

For the party, please bring some desert - eehm dessert. pic: © Pandochka |

That’s an important one: dessert and desert.

The meaning of the words is pretty obvious, the trick is to remember which spelling goes with what meaning.

Desert as a noun means “arid/dry land” like in Sahara, Kalahari or Gobi.  It implies sand, rocks and, lack of water.

The verb “to desert” means abandon, leave behind.   Here is an example from fairly recent American history.  The filmmaker Michael Moore wrote an open letter to G. W. Bush after Bush attacked Kerry’s service record in Vietnam.  The letter was entitled: “It takes real courage to desert your post and then attack a wounded vet.”

Dessert is the sweet course at the end of the meal, in my son’s case every meal, including breakfast.

My trick to remember what to ask people to bring for a potluck dinner in an email: a desert or a dessert (in spoken language this is no problem, it’s the writing that gets you):  Desserts are so sweet – that’s why the word has two “s”.


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