Desert - being deserving of reward or punishment

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Desert - being deserving of reward or punishment

Post by tony h » Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:00 am

In the book I am reading the author states "Desert - is the socially constructed quality of being deserving of reward or punishment. The word is related to deserve." I am not sure whether this is coined or whether he is stating a accepted usage. It isn't a meaning that I remember seeing before and my dictionaries are packed away while some work is being done.

An example usage from the book: "Or, desert can be about rewards: "He deserves a raise" means that he did something that accumulated desert points in a mythical balance sheet, and that giving him more money would settle that balance."
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: Desert - being deserving of reward or punishment

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:52 am

I've only ever encountered that word in the sense being applied here in the context of the collocation 'just [= merited or justified] deserts', where the noun is pluralized.

If a friend commented that "Horst has received his desert for what he did" it would sound quite outlandish to me — not least because I don't actually know anybody called Horst.

There's obviously plenty of scope for confusion with
dessERT (= a category of food dish) and its plural dessERTS, vs.

DESert (= arid wilderness) and its plural DESerts, vs.

desERTS (= merited consequence).
Having never encountered it until I read it in your posting, Tony, I don't consider the singular form of the last-named noun as being valid in terms of my own usage. Maybe it exists in some people's idiolects, but it isn't the standard usage, and it's therefore also vanishingly rare.
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Re: Desert - being deserving of reward or punishment

Post by tony h » Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:48 pm

Erik_Kowal wrote:just deserts
A good point you make there.
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

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