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See also: desiderátum



Learned borrowing from Latin dēsīderātum (something that is desired), neuter nominative singular of dēsīderātus, the passive past participle of dēsīderāre (to desire),[1] from dēsīderō (to desire, want, wish for), from de- (intensifying prefix) + possibly sīdus (star; constellation) though the connection is unclear. The English word is cognate with French desideratum, Spanish desiderátum.

The plural is derived from Latin dēsīderāta.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /dɪˌsɪdəˈɹɑːtəm/, /-ˌzɪ-/, /-ˈɹeɪ-/
  • (file)
  • (General American) IPA(key): /dəˌsɪdəˈɹɑtəm/, /-ˌzɪ-/, [-ɾəm]
  • Hyphenation: de‧si‧de‧ra‧tum


desideratum (plural desiderata)

  1. Something that is wished for, or considered desirable, particularly when thought to be essential. [from mid 17th c.]
    • 1774 November, “Art. XI. An Improvement Proposed in the Cross Wires of Telescopes. By Dr. Wilson, of Glasgow.”, in The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, volume XLIV, London: Printed [] for D[avid] Henry, [], →OCLC, page 529, column 2:
      It having hitherto been a deſideratum to draw ſilver wire fine enough for aſtronomical uſes, our author's improvement "conſiſts in nothing but in flattening the fineſt wires which are now drawn."
    • 1807 June 10, Benjamin Smith Barton, A Discourse on Some of the Principal Desiderata in Natural History, and on the Best Means of Promoting the Study of This Science, in the United-States. [], Philadelphia, Pa.: Printed by Denham & Town, [], →OCLC, page 15:
      I shall now, agreeably to your request, endeavour to point out some of the principal Desiderata of the science of Natural History, and the most effectual means to be pursued for the Advancement of Science.
    • 1838 (date written), L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter V, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], published 1842, →OCLC, page 46:
      The kettle was singing on the side, and a thin white column of smoke announced, that desideratum of tea-makers, that the water boiled at a gallop.
    • 1896, Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, Boston, Mass.: Christian Science Publishing Society, →OCLC; republished Boston, Mass.: Trustees under the Will of Mary Baker G. Eddy, 1924, →OCLC, page 355:
      Less teaching and good healing is to-day the acme of "well done;" a healing that is not guesswork, – chronic recovery ebbing and flowing, – but instantaneous cure. This absolute demonstration of Science must be revived. To consummate this desideratum, mortal mind must pass through three stages of growth.
    • 1898, Herbert Spencer, “Moral Education”, in Education: Intellectual, Moral, and Physical, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton and Company, [], →OCLC, page 161:
      While much is being done in the detailed improvement of our systems in respect of both matter and manner, the most pressing desideratum has not yet even been recognised as a desideratum.
    • 1907 November, Angus Caithness, “Notes on Neuralgia”, in J. J. Lawrence, editor, The Medical Brief: A Monthly Journal of Scientific Medicine and Surgery, volume XXXV, number 11, St. Louis, Mo.: [s.n.] [], →OCLC, page 840, column 2:
      A heavy clay soil is bad for all neuralgics, and the house should be dry, and on a sandy or gravel soil. The desideratum for all neuralgic affections is perpetual summer, but this can only be obtained, and it is not always possible, by an annual migration.
    • 1968, Sociology and Social Research, volume 53, Los Angeles, Calif.: Southern California Sociological Society, University of Southern California, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 65:
      Money is probably a desideratum under almost any circumstance, though it is certainly possible to imagine limitations.
    • 1991, James B. Freeman, “Basic Theoretical Considerations”, in Dialectics and the Macrostructure of Arguments: A Theory of Argument Structure (Studies of Argumentation in Pragmatics and Discourse Analysis), Berlin, New York, N.Y.: Foris Publications, →ISBN, section 2.2 (Desiderata for Theory and Practice), page 33:
      [W]e want to present certain desiderata for a theory of argument structure and the diagramming system which represents it. These desiderata will further highlight the appropriateness of presenting our dialectal theory of argument at the beginning of our study.
    • 2018, Robert A. Wilson, “A Socio-cognitive Framework for Marked Variation”, in The Eugenic Mind Project, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, →ISBN, section 6.8 (Return of the Seven), page 137:
      In terms of the seven desiderata for any adequate response to the puzzle of marked variation, I have argued that the constructivist view's only real strength lies in the first desideratum.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ desideratum, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1895; “desideratum, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]




  1. accusative supine of dēsīderō



  1. inflection of dēsīderātus:
    1. nominative/accusative/vocative neuter singular
    2. accusative masculine singular