Just deserts vs. just desserts

The expression meaning that which is deserved was originally just deserts. The phrase is the last refuge of an obsolete meaning of desert—namely, something that is deserved or merited. But because most modern English speakers are unfamiliar with that old sense of desert, the phrase is often understandably written just desserts.

Using just desserts is not a serious error, and it is much more common than just deserts in 21st-century texts. Some people still consider it wrong, however. Whether to pay this any heed is for each of us to decide for ourselves.

Examples

Just desserts

Thanks for giving some Democrats their just desserts””most of the 16 blue dogs that voted against extending unemployment benefits, in the name of fiscal responsibility, are now jobless. [Global Nation Inquirer]

Jack Conways’s Aqua Buddha ad will go down as one of the dumbest of the year, which is a case of just desserts given its nastiness. [WSJ Blogs]

In some cases, this leads to just desserts scenarios, as when Facebook refused to play ball with Apple’s new Ping social network for iTunes users. [National Review Online]

Just deserts

Indeed, the bizarre ways in which key villains get their just deserts gives The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest its offbeat sense of satisfying closure. [Syracuse New Times]

If people don’t get their just deserts in life, what’s the point even bothering to do the right thing in the first place? [Telegraph]

If Kim Kardashian ever wanted to hand Reggie Bush his just deserts, well… Ta-da! [E! Online]

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