Friday, 26 September 2014

Is it 'Just Deserts' or 'Just Desserts'?

Someone's just about to get their desserts! Ho ho ho.
(photo by April Bern)


Noun. Middle English.
[Old French, from deservir DESERVE.]

1(a) Deserving, being worthy of reward or punishment. ME

1(b) Merit, excellence, worth. LME

2 An action or quality deserving reward or punishment. Usually in plural. LME

3 Due reward or punishment, something deserved.
Frequently in get one's deserts, have one's deserts, meet with one's deserts, etc. LME

Noo! Not that type of dessert. Nor that type. Rather, this is desert, as in something one deserves, pronounced with the stress on the second syllable just like the dessert of the delicious type, and not like the desert of the sandy type. Yes, that's right; were dealing with three completely separate words. And if you've been writing (or thinking) just desserts, then you're a right proper numpty. Did you know that there are even language bloggers that have been caught out by this, only to be corrected on their own blogs, thus exposing their ignorance to the world after they had put themselves up on a pedestal as some kind of authority on the subject? Now if that's not getting your just deserts, I don't know what is.

Now, to be fair to this blogger that shall remain nameless, many resources acknowledge that, while originally it most definitely was deserts and not desserts, the latter has become so common in modern English as to have become virtually acceptable. But seriously: where is the fun in that? For picky pedants and grumpy grammar goblins around the world, where is the satisfaction in shrugging your shoulders and saying: "Ah sure, but everyone says it like that!" No fun. No fun at all. So remember:

(pronounced as dessert, but spelt as desert)

Just desert
(photo by Ilker Ender)
Do please leave your sweetest comments in the sandbox below.


  1. I haven't deserted. Just busy on another project for a while.

    1. A project more exciting than some bloke who's reading the dictionary? Impossible!

  2. Phew! It doesn't seem to be me!

    Yesterday I didn't have only the profiteroles with toffee sauce for my well-earned dinner. But if I had, I'd be sitting here worrying.

    1. I lose all ability to concentrate on anything the moment someone mentions profiteroles ...

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