Posted by: Jack Henry | January 2, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Desserts or Deserts?

The holidays are over, and I don’t know about you but I’m done with desserts (for a while). You might say, “I’ve had my just desserts,” but if you said that, you’d be wrong—not because I want more dessert, but because desserts is the wrong word to use in that context.

The correct word is deserts. However, it is pronounced the same way we pronounce the word that stands for those lovely sweets we eat too many of this time of year. You might be surprised to learn the several definitions of the word desert and to see their pronunciations:

[DEZ-ert] (noun): an arid place

[deh-ZERT] (verb): to abandon

[deh-ZERT] (noun): worthiness of recompense

So when we get our “just deserts,” we are not getting the sweet that we deserve, and we’re not getting an arid location, we are getting compensated (and it usually isn’t good). If you want to read a little bit more about this old adage, Maeve Maddox wrote an interesting article on Daily Writing Tips.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Technical Editor, Adv. | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432


  1. […] phrases "bated breath" and "just deserts" trip up many spellers who mistake the fossil words bated and deserts for the more common […]

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