Commonly Confused Words
A desert is a hot and dry place like the Sahara, but add an s and some whipped cream and you have a dessert, a sweet treat to eat. Dessert has two s's because you always want two. (If you prefer two arid ecosystems, that's on you.)
A desert (DEH-zert) is dry, but to desert (deh-ZERT) is to leave someone high and dry. Although desert as a verb is pronounced like dessert, if you desert a friend, you walk away. You don't cover anyone in chocolate.
Here's desert used a noun:
"Even so, the Sonoran desert can feel immense and hostile, with sand and scrub stretching into the horizon." (The Guardian)
And here it is as a verb:
"To befriend them again would be to say, 'It was OK that you deserted us at the lowest point in our lives.'" (Seattle Times)
Informally, a desert can also be a place that's missing something, as in this example:
"The first location was in Watts, long considered a food desert, or an urban area lacking convenient and quality food and dining options at reasonable prices." (Los Angeles Times)
Dessert, on the other hand, has an extra s for the strawberry shortcake at the end of a meal. Some people might have cheese after dinner, but a dessert is usually sweet, like oatmeal cookies or apple pie. Here are a couple of delicious examples:
"The key lime pie, topped with extra-thick whipped cream, is the best-selling dessert." (Washington Post)
"True to its classic form, the dessert consisted of two layers of sponge cake, a thick center of yellow cream and a chocolate-frosted top." (Wall Street Journal)
So remember, don't get a desert mixed up with your dessert or else you'll wind up with sand in your strawberry shortcake. See what we did there?
A desert is a very dry area of land where few plants and animals can live. If you find yourself stranded in the middle of the desert, you'll have no company except for the occasional lizard or scorpion. Continue reading...
Served as the last course of a meal, a dessert is often sweet, like cake or pie. If you have a sweet tooth, you may wish it were the only course of the meal. Continue reading...