Sunday, January 01, 2006
Deserts and Desserts
The man [Michael Ross] was a monster, and he got at least a small portion of his desserts, long delayed but nonetheless real, over twenty years later, when, on May 13, 2005, executioners in a Connecticut prison injected poison into his veins while the families of his victims watched.I don't think Bottum was referring to the condemned man's last meal. Desserts here is of course a mistake for its homophone deserts.
This error is so common that Google shows only 224,000 hits for the correct just deserts versus 703,000 for the incorrect just desserts. Some of the hits for just desserts are for punning confectionary and pastry shops, but nevertheless the numbers seem to show that the incorrect usage is the more common. What is worse, Google asks
Did you mean: "just desserts"?when you search for just deserts.
It's only a matter of time before the laxicographers give just desserts their imprimatur.
By the way, if you're looking for desserts from deserts of a different kind, did you know that both sherbet and syrup are derived from Arabic?