What does desire mean?

Definitions for desire

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word desire.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. desirenoun

    the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied state

  2. desirenoun

    an inclination to want things

    "a man of many desires"

  3. desireverb

    something that is desired

  4. desire, wantverb

    feel or have a desire for; want strongly

    "I want to go home now"; "I want my own room"

  5. hope, trust, desireverb

    expect and wish

    "I trust you will behave better from now on"; "I hope she understands that she cannot expect a raise"

  6. desireverb

    express a desire for


  1. desirenoun

    Someone or something wished for.

  2. desirenoun

    Strong attraction, particularly romantic or sexual.

    His desire for her kept him awake at night.

  3. desirenoun

    The feeling of desire.

    Too much desire can seriously affect one's judgment.

  4. desireverb

    More formal or stronger word for want.

    I desire to speak with you.

  5. desireverb

    To put a request to (someone); to entreat.

  6. desireverb

    Another word for want, connoting emotion.

    She has been desiring him since they first met.

  7. Etymology: From desiren, from desirrer, from desidero, apparently, from de- + sidus (see sidereal), but the connection of thought is not clear (perhaps "to wish (down) from the stars"?); compare consider. Compare also desiderate.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. DESIREnoun

    Wish; eagerness to obtain or enjoy.

    Etymology: desir, Fr. deseo, Ital. desiderium, Lat.

    Drink provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    Desire ’s the vast extent of human mind;
    It mounts above, and leaves poor hope behind. Dryden.

    Desire is the uneasiness a man finds in himself upon the absence of any thing, whose present enjoyment carries the idea of delight with it. John Locke.

    It is in a man’s power only to observe what the ideas are that take their turns in his understanding, or else to direct the sort, and call in such as he hath a desire or use of. John Locke.

  2. To Desireverb

    Etymology: desirer, French; desiderare, Latin.

    Thou shalt not desire the silver or gold. Deutr. vii. 25.

    Jove beheld it with a desiring look. Dryden.

    Sir, I intreat you home with me to dinner.
    —— I humbly do desire your grace of pardon;
    I must away this night. William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice.

    But since you take such int’rest in our woe,
    And Troy’s disast’rous end desire to know,
    I will restrain my tears, and briefly tell
    What in our last fatal night befell. John Dryden, Æn. b. ii.


  1. Desire

    Desires are states of mind that are expressed by terms like "wanting", "wishing", "longing" or "craving". A great variety of features is commonly associated with desires. They are seen as propositional attitudes towards conceivable states of affairs. They aim to change the world by representing how the world should be, unlike beliefs, which aim to represent how the world actually is. Desires are closely related to agency: they motivate the agent to realize them. For this to be possible, a desire has to be combined with a belief about which action would realize it. Desires present their objects in a favorable light, as something that appears to be good. Their fulfillment is normally experienced as pleasurable in contrast to the negative experience of failing to do so. Conscious desires are usually accompanied by some form of emotional response. While many researchers roughly agree on these general features, there is significant disagreement about how to define desires, i.e. which of these features are essential and which ones are merely accidental. Action-based theories define desires as structures that incline us toward actions. Pleasure-based theories focus on the tendency of desires to cause pleasure when fulfilled. Value-based theories identify desires with attitudes toward values, like judging or having an appearance that something is good. Desires can be grouped into various types according to a few basic distinctions. Intrinsic desires concern what the subject wants for its own sake while instrumental desires are about what the subject wants for the sake of something else. Occurrent desires are either conscious or otherwise causally active, in contrast to standing desires, which exist somewhere in the back of one's mind. Propositional desires are directed at possible states of affairs while object-desires are directly about objects. Various authors distinguish between higher desires associated with spiritual or religious goals and lower desires, which are concerned with bodily or sensory pleasures. Desires play a role in many different fields. There is disagreement whether desires should be understood as practical reasons or whether we can have practical reasons without having a desire to follow them. According to fitting-attitude theories of value, an object is valuable if it is fitting to desire this object or if we ought to desire it. Desire-satisfaction theories of well-being state that a person's well-being is determined by whether that person's desires are satisfied. Marketing and advertising companies have used psychological research on how desire is stimulated to find more effective ways to induce consumers into buying a given product or service. Techniques include creating a sense of lack in the viewer or associating the product with desirable attributes. Desire plays a key role in art. The theme of desire is at the core of romance novels, which often create drama by showing cases where human desire is impeded by social conventions, class, or cultural barriers. Melodrama films use plots that appeal to the heightened emotions of the audience by showing "crises of human emotion, failed romance or friendship", in which desire is thwarted or unrequited.


  1. desire

    Desire is a strong feeling or longing for something that is typically seen as positive or pleasurable. It is a human emotion or craving that drives individuals to pursue or obtain things they find appealing, satisfying, or necessary for their well-being and happiness. Desires can vary in intensity and can be directed towards various aspects of life such as material possessions, personal accomplishments, relationships, experiences, or even intangible goals and aspirations.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Desireverb

    to long for; to wish for earnestly; to covet

  2. Desireverb

    to express a wish for; to entreat; to request

  3. Desireverb

    to require; to demand; to claim

  4. Desireverb

    to miss; to regret

  5. Desireverb

    the natural longing that is excited by the enjoyment or the thought of any good, and impels to action or effort its continuance or possession; an eager wish to obtain or enjoy

  6. Desireverb

    an expressed wish; a request; petition

  7. Desireverb

    anything which is desired; an object of longing

  8. Desireverb

    excessive or morbid longing; lust; appetite

  9. Desireverb

    grief; regret


  1. Desire

    "Desire" is a song by U2 and the third track on their 1988 album, Rattle and Hum. Released as the album's lead single, "Desire" was the band's first number-one single in the UK and Australia. It reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, and topped both the Modern and Mainstream Rock Tracks charts, the first song to reach the top of both of these charts simultaneously. It reached number two on the Dutch Top 40. In 1989, "Desire" won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Desire

    de-zīr′, v.t. to long for the possession of: to wish for: to request, ask: (B.) to regret.—v.i. to be in a state of desire.—n. an earnest longing for: eagerness to obtain: a prayer or request: the object desired: lust.—adj. Desir′able, worthy of desire: pleasing: agreeable.—ns. Desir′ableness, Desirabil′ity.—adv. Desir′ably.—adj. Desire′less.—n. Desir′er.—adj. Desir′ous, full of desire: anxious to obtain: eager.—adv. Desir′ously.—n. Desir′ousness. [Fr. désirer—L. desiderāre. See Desiderate.]

Editors Contribution

  1. desire

    An intuitive feeling.

    It was always her desire to form a unity government as people working together for the good and benefit of all is the most intuitive and just outcome.

    Submitted by MaryC on February 15, 2020  

Suggested Resources

  1. desire

    Song lyrics by desire -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by desire on the Lyrics.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Desire is ranked #31906 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Desire surname appeared 723 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Desire.

    87.8% or 635 total occurrences were Black.
    5.1% or 37 total occurrences were White.
    3.6% or 26 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    3% or 22 total occurrences were of two or more races.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'desire' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #2010

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'desire' in Written Corpus Frequency: #4695

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'desire' in Nouns Frequency: #805

  4. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'desire' in Verbs Frequency: #887

Anagrams for desire »

  1. eiders

  2. reside

How to pronounce desire?

How to say desire in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of desire in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of desire in Pythagorean Numerology is: 6

Examples of desire in a Sentence

  1. Sandi Tenfelde:

    Many women are afraid (to resume sexual intercourse), so I think fear plays into that part of desire, if you are concerned about the changes that happen in your body and you’re nervous about what it’s going to feel like, that fear can reduce the desire.

  2. Ayn Rand:

    A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.

  3. Kate Thomas:

    An orgasm is important for women’s desire, if you don’t have spontaneous desire but want to be sexual and know you’re going to enjoy it, you’re ready to do it. In a sense, the desire becomes amplified. But if it’s always a disappointing experience, you won’twant to do it.

  4. Sandi Tenfelde:

    If you are concerned about the changes that happen in your body and you’re nervous about what it’s going to feel like, that fear can reduce the desire, women can also have pelvic pain or perineal (between vagina and rectum) pain, depending on their mode of giving birth, that may also impact not only their desire but their arousal.

  5. Stanley Kunitz:

    What makes the engine go Desire, desire, desire.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for desire

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • begeerte, wensAfrikaans
  • رغبة, رغبArabic
  • arzuAzerbaijani
  • теләкBashkir
  • жадаць, жаданнеBelarusian
  • желание, желая, искам, жадуване, жадувамBulgarian
  • desitjar, desigCatalan, Valencian
  • přát, toužit, přání, touhaCzech
  • ønske, begære, begær, lyst, attråDanish
  • begehren, Wunsch, VerlangenGerman
  • επιθυμώ, ποθώ, επιθυμία, πόθοςGreek
  • deziro, deziriEsperanto
  • deseo, desear, ganaSpanish
  • soov, ihaEstonian
  • شیفتگی, آرزو كردن, خواستن, کام, آرزو, یاسه, خواهشPersian
  • himoita, tahtoa, halu, haluta, mieliäFinnish
  • désirer, désirFrench
  • fonn, saint, mian, dúilIrish
  • baois, drùis, feòlmhorachd, baoiseachdScottish Gaelic
  • desexo, desexarGalician
  • imnee, dooill, mian, fooill, wooishManx
  • השתוקק, חפץ, תשוקה, חשקHebrew
  • इच्छा, चाहHindi
  • vágyHungarian
  • ցանկություն, իղձ, ցանկանալ, կիրքArmenian
  • desirarInterlingua
  • keinginan, hasratIndonesian
  • löngunIcelandic
  • desiderio, desiderare, volereItalian
  • רצוןHebrew
  • 欲する, 願望, 願う, 望むJapanese
  • სურვილიGeorgian
  • тілек, ықыласKazakh
  • បំណងប្រាថ្នាKhmer
  • ಡಿಸೈರ್, ಬಯಕೆ, ಹಂಬಲKannada
  • 바라다, 원하다, 욕망Korean
  • نیاز, خواستنKurdish
  • тилек, каалооKyrgyz
  • cupido, volo, cupio, cupitas, cupiditas, desiderium, voluntas, studium, desideroLatin
  • ຕ້ອງການLao
  • pageidavimas, aistra, trokšti, geisti, noras, geismas, pageidauti, potraukis, troškimasLithuanian
  • iekāre, vēlēšanās, alkas, vēlme, kaisle, kāroties, kārot, alkt, vēlēties, kaislībaLatvian
  • посакува, копнеж, страст, желба, посакаMacedonian
  • ആഗ്രഹം, മോഹംMalayalam
  • хүсэхMongolian
  • ईच्छा, इच्छाMarathi
  • keinginanMalay
  • verlangen, wens, begeerteDutch
  • ønskeNorwegian
  • pragnąć, pożądać, pragnienie, pożądaniePolish
  • desejo, desejarPortuguese
  • deziderat, dori, dorințăRomanian
  • вожделеть, пожелание, вожделение, желание, влечение, желатьRussian
  • तृष्णाSanskrit
  • žèleti, želja, жудња, žudnja, žudjeti, жудјети, жѐлети, žèljeti, жѐљети, žudeti, жудети, жељаSerbo-Croatian
  • túžiť, želanie, žiadať, túžba, želať, priaťSlovak
  • želja, poželenje, želetiSlovene
  • dëshirëAlbanian
  • längtan, begär, eftertrakta, längta, lust, önska, åtrå, begära, önskanSwedish
  • ariSwahili
  • ஆசைTamil
  • వాంఛ, కోరిక, ఆకర్షణ, ఆశ, ఇచ్చ, అపేక్ష, అభిలాషTelugu
  • хоҳиш, майл, рағбат, орзу‍Tajik
  • ความใคร่, ต้องการ, ความปรารถนา, ใคร่, ปรารถนา, ตัณหา, ความต้องการ, ประสงค์Thai
  • islegTurkmen
  • arzu hissi, arzuTurkish
  • теләкTatar
  • бажання, бажатиUkrainian
  • چاہت, خواہش, تمناUrdu
  • xohlamoq, tilak, orzu, ishtiyoq, istakUzbek
  • khao khátVietnamese
  • desirVolapük
  • פאַרלאַנגYiddish
  • 欲望Chinese

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"desire." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 29 Nov. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/desire>.

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