I’ll have dessert, please

A reader asks about just deserts and just desserts. Maybe it’s the time of year: We feel justified in having dessert during the holidays.

In fact, the phrase is just deserts. It comes from the French word that became deserve in English. To get one’s just deserts means to get what one deserves, good or bad. Mostly, however, it means to get the punishment that’s coming for bad behavior. To paraphrase an old saying, just deserts are best served cold.

The Mavens’ Word of the Day explains just deserts and the etymology of desserts.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.