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Even though it may be pronounced like “dessert,” the word that defines a special treat, the common phrase “just deserts” is spelled in quite another way, and it’s got the internet very confused.
Last week, Merriam-Webster made the distinction on Twitter. “Just deserts,” of course, refers to the punishment an individual deserves, which certainly does not consist of a special treat of any kind.
English being one of the more illogical languages, “desert” can get pretty tricky. One definition (a sparse land) is pronounced one way, while another definition (to leave) is pronounced another way, and the same as “dessert.”
According to Merriam-Webster , both words are etymologically related, but “just deserts” predates “dessert,” which only came into use mid-16th century.
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