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tr.v. de·sired, de·sir·ing, de·sires
1. To wish or long for; want: a reporter who desires an interview; a teen who desires to travel.
2. To want to have sex with (another person).
3. To express a wish for; request.
a. The feeling of wanting to have something or wishing that something will happen.
b. An instance of this feeling: She had a lifelong desire to visit China.
2. Sexual appetite; passion.
3. An object of such feeling or passion: A quiet evening with you is my only desire.
4. Archaic A request or petition.

[Middle English desiren, from Old French desirer, from Latin dēsīderāre, to observe or feel the absence of, miss, desire : dē-, de- + -sīderāre (as in cōnsīderāre, to observe attentively, contemplate; see consider).]

de·sir′er n.
Synonyms: desire, covet, crave, want, wish
These verbs mean to have a strong longing for: desire peace; coveted the new car; craving fame and fortune; wanted a drink of water; wished that she had gone to the beach.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


vb (tr)
1. (Psychology) to wish or long for; crave; want
2. to express a wish or make a request for; ask for
3. (Psychology) a wish or longing; craving
4. an expressed wish; request
5. (Psychology) sexual appetite; lust
6. a person or thing that is desired
[C13: from Old French desirer, from Latin dēsīderāre to desire earnestly; see desiderate]
deˈsirer n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



v. -sired, -sir•ing,
n. v.t.
1. to wish or long for; crave; want.
2. to ask for; solicit; request: The mayor desires your presence at the meeting.
3. a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction; hunger.
4. an expressed wish; request.
5. something desired.
6. sexual appetite or a sexual urge.
[1200–50; < Old French desirer < Latin dēsīderāre; see desiderate]
syn: desire, craving, longing, yearning suggest feelings that impel a person to the attainment or possession of something. desire is a strong wish, worthy or unworthy, for something that is or seems to be within reach: a desire for success. craving implies a deep and compelling wish for something, arising from a feeling of (literal or figurative) hunger: a craving for food; a craving for companionship. longing is an intense wish, generally repeated or enduring, for something that is at the moment beyond reach but may be attainable in the future: a longing to visit Europe. yearning suggests persistent, uneasy, and sometimes wistful or tender longing: a yearning for one's native land.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



See Also: SEX

  1. A brief surge of sexual desire that crested and passed like a wave breaking —Paige Mitchell
  2. Craves love like oxygen —Marge Piercy
  3. Craving [for a man] … like a cigarette smoker’s who knows his desire is unhealthy, knows that the next puff may set off a chain reaction of catastrophe, but nevertheless cannot by such logic tame the impulse —Paul Reidinger
  4. Desire had run its course like a long and serious illness —Harvey Swados
  5. Desire … like the hunger for a definite but hard-to-come-by food —Mary Gordon
  6. Desire overtook us like a hot, breaking wave —A. E. Maxwell
  7. Desires are either natural and necessary, like eating and drinking; or natural and not necessary, like intercourse with females; or neither natural or necessary —Michel de Montaigne
  8. Desires..hurried like the clouds —Elizabeth Bowen
  9. Desire … swept over her like a flame —Robin McCorquodale
  10. Dying for … like God for a repentant sinner —Bertold Brecht
  11. (She is) gasping after love like a carp after water on a kitchen table —Gustave Flaubert
  12. Her needs stick out all over, like a porcupine’s needles —Emily Listfield
  13. His need for her was crippling … like a cruel blow at the back of his knees —John Cheever
  14. How passionate the mating instinct is, like a giant hippo chasing his mate through the underbrush and never stopping till he finally mounts her in the muddy waters of the mighty Amazon —Daniel Asa Rose
  15. Longing … afflicted her like a toothache —Harold Acton
  16. Miss like sin —Lael Tucker Wertenbaker

    The simile in full context from the novel, Unbidden Guests: “I woke up missing Alex like sin.”

  17. Miss you like breath —Janet Flanner
  18. More giddy in my desires than a monkey —William Shakespeare
  19. My desire for her is so wild I feel as if I’m all liquid —W. P. Kinsella
  20. A passion finer than lust, as if everything living is moist with her —Daniela Gioseffi
  21. Worldly desires are like columns of sunshine radiating through a dusty window, nothing tangible, nothing there —Bratzlav Naham
  22. Yearning radiating from his face like heat from an electric heater —Larry McMurtry
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.



(See also LUST.)

big eyes A great lust or desire for a person or object. This jazz term, in use since the 1950s, may have come from the older, less picturesque to have eyes for ‘to be attracted to or desirous of,’ used as early as 1810 in The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter. Big eyes has a corresponding negative expression, no eyes, also in use since 1950s, meaning ‘lack of desire, or disinclination.’

forbidden fruit A tempting but prohibited object or experience; an unauthorized or illegal indulgence, often of a sexual nature. The Biblical origin of this phrase appears in Genesis 3:3:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

The expression has been used figuratively for centuries.

The stealing and tasting of the forbidden fruit of sovereignty. (James Heath, Flagellum, 1663)

give one’s eyeteeth To gladly make the greatest sacrifice to obtain a desired end; to yield something precious in exchange for the achievement of one’s desire. The eyeteeth, so named because their roots extend to just under the eyes, are the two pointed canines which flank the front teeth of the upper jaw. Since excruciating pain accompanies their extraction, this expression came to imply making a painful sacrifice.

He’d give his eye-teeth to have written a book half as good. (W. S. Maugham, Cakes & Ale, 1930)

give one’s right arm To be willing to make a great sacrifice or to endure great pain or inconvenience; to trade something as irreplaceable as part of one’s body for an object of desire. In our predominantly right-handed society, to forfeit one’s right arm signifies a great loss. This phrase has been popular since the early 1900s. Earlier, in the late 19th century, willing to give one’s ears was a common expression. It is said to allude to the ancient practice of cutting off ears for various offenses.

Many a man would give his ears to be allowed to call two such charming young ladies by their Christian names. (William E. Norris, Thirlby Hall, 1883)

go through fire and water To be willing to suffer pain or brave danger in order to obtain the object of one’s desire; to undergo great sacrifice or pay any price to achieve a desired end; to prove one-self by the most demanding of tests. The expression is thought to derive from ordeals involving fire and water which were common methods of trial in Anglo-Saxon times. To prove their innocence, accused persons were often forced to carry hot bars of iron or to plunge a hand into boiling water without injury. The phrase is now used exclusively in a figurative sense, as illustrated by the following from Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor:

A woman would run through fire and water for such a kind heart. (III, iv)

itching palm Avarice, greed, cupidity; an abnormal desire for money and material possessions, often implying an openness or susceptibility to bribery. The expression apparently arose from the old superstition that a person whose palm itches is about to receive money. The figurative sense of itching ‘an uneasy desire or hankering’ dates from the first half of the 14th century. Shakespeare used the phrase in Julius Caesar:

Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself
Are much condemned to have an itching palm. (IV, iii)

make the mouth water To excite a craving or desire, to cause to anticipate eagerly. This expression has its origin in the stimulation of the salivary glands by the appetizing sight or smell of food. Both literal and figurative uses of the phrase date from the 16th century.

[She would] bribe him … to write down the name of a young Scotch peer … that her mouth watered after. (Daniel Defoe, The History of D. Campbell, 1720)

my kingdom for a horse! An expression used when one would gladly trade an obviously valuable possession for one of seemingly lesser worth, usually because the lack of the latter renders the former meaningless or useless. It was the cry of Shakespeare’s Richard III at Bosworth Field:

A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse! (V, iv)

wait for dead men’s shoes To covetously await one ’s inheritance; to eagerly anticipate the position or property that another’s death will bring. This expression, infrequently used today, derives from the former Jewish cusTom’surrounding the transfer or bequeathing of property, as related in Ruth 4:7. A bargain was formally sealed by removing and handing over one’s shoe. Similarly, inheritance due to death was signaled by pulling off the dead man’s shoes and giving them to his heir. Dead men’s shoes was often used alone to indicate the property so bequeathed or so awaited.

yen A craving or strong desire; a yearning, longing, or hankering. One theory regarding the origin of this expression claims that yen is a corruption of the Chinese slang term yan ‘a craving, as for opium or drink.’ Another theory states that yen is probably an altered form of yearn or yearning. The term dates from at least 1908.

Ever get a yen to “take off” a day or two and see the country? (Capital-Democrat [Tishomingo, Oklahoma], June, 1948)

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Desire can be a noun or a verb.

1. used as a noun

A desire is a feeling that you want something or want to do something. You usually talk about a desire for something or a desire to do something.

...a tremendous desire for liberty.
Stephanie felt a strong desire for coffee.
He had not the slightest desire to go on holiday.
2. used as a verb

If you desire something, you want it. This is a formal or literary use.

She had remarried and desired a child with her new husband.
Everything you desire can be found in India.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012


Past participle: desired
Gerund: desiring

I desire
you desire
he/she/it desires
we desire
you desire
they desire
I desired
you desired
he/she/it desired
we desired
you desired
they desired
Present Continuous
I am desiring
you are desiring
he/she/it is desiring
we are desiring
you are desiring
they are desiring
Present Perfect
I have desired
you have desired
he/she/it has desired
we have desired
you have desired
they have desired
Past Continuous
I was desiring
you were desiring
he/she/it was desiring
we were desiring
you were desiring
they were desiring
Past Perfect
I had desired
you had desired
he/she/it had desired
we had desired
you had desired
they had desired
I will desire
you will desire
he/she/it will desire
we will desire
you will desire
they will desire
Future Perfect
I will have desired
you will have desired
he/she/it will have desired
we will have desired
you will have desired
they will have desired
Future Continuous
I will be desiring
you will be desiring
he/she/it will be desiring
we will be desiring
you will be desiring
they will be desiring
Present Perfect Continuous
I have been desiring
you have been desiring
he/she/it has been desiring
we have been desiring
you have been desiring
they have been desiring
Future Perfect Continuous
I will have been desiring
you will have been desiring
he/she/it will have been desiring
we will have been desiring
you will have been desiring
they will have been desiring
Past Perfect Continuous
I had been desiring
you had been desiring
he/she/it had been desiring
we had been desiring
you had been desiring
they had been desiring
I would desire
you would desire
he/she/it would desire
we would desire
you would desire
they would desire
Past Conditional
I would have desired
you would have desired
he/she/it would have desired
we would have desired
you would have desired
they would have desired
Collins English Verb Tables © HarperCollins Publishers 2011
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.desire - the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied statedesire - the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied state
feeling - the experiencing of affective and emotional states; "she had a feeling of euphoria"; "he had terrible feelings of guilt"; "I disliked him and the feeling was mutual"
ambition, aspiration, dream - a cherished desire; "his ambition is to own his own business"
bloodlust - a desire for bloodshed
temptation - the desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid; "he felt the temptation and his will power weakened"
craving - an intense desire for some particular thing
wish, wishing, want - a specific feeling of desire; "he got his wish"; "he was above all wishing and desire"
longing, yearning, hungriness - prolonged unfulfilled desire or need
concupiscence, physical attraction, sexual desire, eros - a desire for sexual intimacy
itch, urge - a strong restless desire; "why this urge to travel?"
caprice, whim, impulse - a sudden desire; "he bought it on an impulse"
2.desire - an inclination to want things; "a man of many desires"
tendency, inclination - a characteristic likelihood of or natural disposition toward a certain condition or character or effect; "the alkaline inclination of the local waters"; "fabric with a tendency to shrink"
hunger, thirst, thirstiness, hungriness - strong desire for something (not food or drink); "a thirst for knowledge"; "hunger for affection"
greed - excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves
3.desire - something that is desired
arousal - a state of heightened physiological activity
passion, rage - something that is desired intensely; "his rage for fame destroyed him"
materialism, philistinism - a desire for wealth and material possessions with little interest in ethical or spiritual matters
Verb1.desire - feel or have a desire for; want strongly; "I want to go home now"; "I want my own room"
crave, lust, hunger, thirst, starve - have a craving, appetite, or great desire for
take to, fancy, go for - have a fancy or particular liking or desire for; "She fancied a necklace that she had seen in the jeweler's window"
miss - feel or suffer from the lack of; "He misses his mother"
hope - be optimistic; be full of hope; have hopes; "I am still hoping that all will turn out well"
wish - hope for; have a wish; "I wish I could go home now"
wish well, wish - feel or express a desire or hope concerning the future or fortune of
like, wish, care - prefer or wish to do something; "Do you care to try this dish?"; "Would you like to come along to the movies?"
itch, spoil - have a strong desire or urge to do something; "She is itching to start the project"; "He is spoiling for a fight"
like - want to have; "I'd like a beer now!"
ambition - have as one's ambition
feel like - have an inclination for something or some activity; "I feel like staying in bed all day"; "I feel like a cold beer now"
begrudge, envy - be envious of; set one's heart on
lech after, lust after - have a strong sexual desire for; "he is lusting after his secretary"
hanker, long, yearn - desire strongly or persistently
seek - try to get or reach; "seek a position"; "seek an education"; "seek happiness"
2.desire - expect and wishdesire - expect and wish; "I trust you will behave better from now on"; "I hope she understands that she cannot expect a raise"
wish - hope for; have a wish; "I wish I could go home now"
3.desire - express a desire for
call for, request, bespeak, quest - express the need or desire for; ask for; "She requested an extra bed in her room"; "She called for room service"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. wish, want, longing, need, hope, urge, yen (informal), hunger, appetite, aspiration, ache, craving, yearning, inclination, thirst, hankering I had a strong desire to help and care for people
2. lust, passion, libido, appetite, lechery, carnality, lasciviousness, lasciviousness, concupiscence, randiness (informal, chiefly Brit.), lustfulness Teenage sex may not always come out of genuine desire.
2. (Formal) request, ask, petition, solicit, entreat, importune His Majesty desires me to make his wishes known to you.
Related words
adjective orectic
"We do not succeed in changing things according to our desire, but gradually our desire changes" [Marcel Proust Remembrance of Things Past]
"There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it" [George Bernard Shaw Man and Superman]
"Other women cloy"
"The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry"
"Where most she satisfies" [William Shakespeare Antony and Cleopatra]
"If you desire many things, many things will seem but a few" [Benjamin Franklin Poor Richard's Almanack]
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


1. To have the desire or inclination to:
Idioms: have a mind, see fit.
2. To have a strong longing for:
Informal: hone.
1. A strong wanting of what promises enjoyment or pleasure:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
touhatoužittoužit pochuťpřání
ønskebegærbegærelænges efterlængsel
langaòrá, langa
željaželeti si
åtråönska (sig)
mong muốnsự mong muốn


A. Ndeseo m (for, to do sth de de hacer algo) I have no desire to see himno tengo el más mínimo deseo de verlo
1. (= want) [+ wealth, success] → desear
to desire to do sthdesear hacer algo
it leaves much to be desireddeja mucho que desear
2. (sexually) [+ person] → desear
3. (= request) to desire thatrogar que ...
to desire sb to do sthrogar a algn que haga algo
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


(= wish) → désir m
desire for sth → envie de qch
desire to do sth → envie de faire qch
one's heart's desire (literary)le plus cher désir de qn
(sexual)désir m
(= want) → désirer, vouloir
to desire to do sth → désirer faire qch
if desired → au besoin
to leave a lot to be desired, to leave a great deal to be desired, to leave much to be desired (= be unsatisfactory) → laisser beaucoup à désirer
[+ man, woman] → désirer
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nWunsch m(for nach); (= longing)Sehnsucht f(for nach); (sexual) → Verlangen nt(for nach), Begehren nt(for nach); her sexual desiresihre sexuellen Wünsche; a desire for peace/revengeein Verlangen ntnach Frieden/Rache; the desire to pleaseder Wunsch zu gefallen; heart’s desireHerzenswunsch m; I have no desire to see himich habe kein Verlangen, ihn zu sehen; I have no desire to cause you any troubleich möchte Ihnen keine Unannehmlichkeiten bereiten
vtwünschen; objectsich (dat)wünschen; womanbegehren; peacehaben wollen, verlangen nach; if desiredauf Wunsch; to have the desired effectdie gewünschte Wirkung haben; cut the wood to the desired lengthdas Holz auf die gewünschte Länge zuschneiden; it leaves much or a lot to be desireddas lässt viel or einiges zu wünschen übrig; it leaves something to be desiredes lässt zu wünschen übrig; to desire somebody to do something (form: = request) → jdn bitten or ersuchen, etw zu tun
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


1. ndesiderio, voglia; (sexual) → desiderio desire (for/to do sth)desiderio (di/di fare qc)
I have no desire to see him → non ho nessuna voglia di vederlo
2. vt (person) → desiderare
to desire sth/to do sth/that → desiderare qc/di fare qc/che + sub
it leaves much to be desired → lascia molto a desiderare
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(diˈzaiə) noun
a wish or longing. I have a sudden desire for a bar of chocolate; I have no desire ever to see him again.
to long for or feel desire for. After a day's work, all I desire is a hot bath.
deˈsirable adjective
pleasing or worth having. a desirable residence.
deˌsiraˈbility noun
the extent to which something is desirable.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


رَغْبَة, يَرْغَبُ touha, toužit begær, begære haben wollen, Verlangen πόθος, ποθώ desear, deseo halu, haluta désir, désirer želja, željeti desiderare, desiderio 希望, 希望する 바라다, 욕구 verlangen ønske zażyczyć sobie, życzenie desejar, desejo желание, желать åtrå, önska (sig) ความปรารถนา, ปรารถนา arzu, arzu etmek mong muốn, sự mong muốn 愿望, 渴望
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


n. deseo, ansia;
vt. desear, ansiar.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


n deseo; vt desear
English-Spanish/Spanish-English Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
It does what it does at each stage because instinct gives it an impulse to do just that, not because it foresees and desires the result of its actions.*
Indeed, if there really is some day discovered a formula for all our desires and caprices--that is, an explanation of what they depend upon, by what laws they arise, how they develop, what they are aiming at in one case and in another and so on, that is a real mathematical formula--then, most likely, man will at once cease to feel desire, indeed, he will be certain to.
Temperance, I replied, is the ordering or controlling of certain pleasures and desires; this is curiously enough implied in the saying of `a man being his own master' and other traces of the same notion may be found in language.
MENO: Well then, Socrates, virtue, as I take it, is when he, who desires the honourable, is able to provide it for himself; so the poet says, and I say too--
"For look you," he was saying, "as I see it, a man does things because of desire. He has many desires.
He soon felt that the realization of his desires gave him no more than a grain of sand out of the mountain of happiness he had expected.
"Ha, Sir Jules," laughed the old gardener, "Virtue and Vice be twin sisters who come running to do the bidding of the same father, Desire. Were there no desire there would be no virtue, and because one man desires what another does not, who shall say whether the child of his desire be vice or virtue?
And, in fine, I could not have restrained my desires, nor remained satisfied had I not followed a path in which I thought myself certain of attaining all the knowledge to the acquisition of which I was competent, as well as the largest amount of what is truly good which I could ever hope to secure Inasmuch as we neither seek nor shun any object except in so far as our understanding represents it as good or bad, all that is necessary to right action is right judgment, and to the best action the most correct judgment, that is, to the acquisition of all the virtues with all else that is truly valuable and within our reach; and the assurance of such an acquisition cannot fail to render us contented.
But that native land was too far off, and for a man going a thousand miles it is absolutely necessary to set aside his final goal and to say to himself: "Today I shall get to a place twenty-five miles off where I shall rest and spend the night," and during the first day's journey that resting place eclipses his ultimate goal and attracts all his hopes and desires. And the impulses felt by a single person are always magnified in a crowd.
But Adam did not need it, Nor the plough he would not speed it, Singing:--"Earth and Water, Air and Fire, What more can mortal man desire?"(The Apple Tree's in bud.)
"That would be the highest thing for me"--so saith your lying spirit unto itself--"to gaze upon life without desire, and not like the dog, with hanging-out tongue:
It would be tedious to trouble the reader with relating what vast numbers of illustrious persons were called up to gratify that insatiable desire I had to see the world in every period of antiquity placed before me.