CS Sealey

New Zealand-based sub-editor, writer and author

The difference between desert and dessert

TLDR: Reserve dessert for that meal you have after dinner.

It’s amazing how often these two get mixed up in written English when they mean two completely different things!

desert (noun)—a dry expanse of land typically covered with sand

It took days for the camels to cross the desert.

desert (verb)—to abandon something or someone

Charlie deserted his mistress and returned to his wife and children.

The soldier picked up his rifle and deserted his post.

When the curtain rose and the audience applauded, her courage deserted her.

dessert (noun)—a sweet food eaten after a meal

‘I had traffic light jelly for dessert last night!’

Of course, it doesn’t help that the verb desert is pronounced the same way as dessert, but that’s the English language for you!

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