Desert Islands vs. Dessert Islands

Ever wonder how people could have possibly survived if stranded on a “desert island”?

The earliest meaning of the adjective “desert” was "uninhabited, uncultivated.” Even a forest could be “desert.”

The noun has come to mean a sandy or rocky waste whereas the adjective has survived only in the phrase “desert island.” It means “deserted, uninhabited.”

Desert islands have been the subject of cartoons for a long time. I was reminded of the phrase by this clever variation from Wiley Miller.

Remember not to confuse desert islands with dessert islands. The latter might work as a description of the French traditional after-dinner treat, îsles flottant.


Unknown said...

better yet: îles flottantes

Anonymous said...

Paul, I believe the French have dropped the "s" in Ile Flottante.