Every week I demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the word intended. Usually, this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence and sometimes it sounds amusing, other times it sounds embarrassing. Unfortunately, the mistake is so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television.
Desert / Dessert
Two easily confused words because of the very similar spelling but like so many others on this blog, they have completely different meanings and in one particular context, they are pronounced identically.
Desert – An arid landscape with little to no vegetation. Typically sand, but landmasses covered in ice can also be considered deserts.
Dessert – A course of a meal, typically a sweet meal and eaten last.
In which context are they pronounced the same way? When desert is used as a verb. Examples include:
- A soldier deserts his post, the deserter is caught and charged with desertion.
- If a bird is scared off from the nest when disturbed, some species desert the young fledglings