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A typewriter on a desk


From Middle English deske, desque, from Medieval Latin desca, modified from Old Italian desco, from Latin discus. Doublet of dais, disc, discus, dish, disk, and diskos. See also German Tisch, "table".



desk (plural desks)

English Wikipedia has an article on:
  1. A table, frame, or case, in past centuries usually with a sloping top but now usually with a flat top, for the use of writers and readers. It often has a drawer or repository underneath.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter V, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      Here, in the transept and choir, where the service was being held, one was conscious every moment of an increasing brightness; colours glowing vividly beneath the circular chandeliers, and the rows of small lights on the choristers' desks flashed and sparkled in front of the boys' faces, deep linen collars, and red neckbands.
  2. A reading table or lectern to support the book from which the liturgical service is read, differing from the pulpit from which the sermon is preached; also (especially in the United States), a pulpit. Hence, used symbolically for the clerical profession.
  3. A department tasked with a particular topic or focus in certain types of businesses, such as newspapers and financial trading firms.
    the city desk, the sports desk
    the options desk, the equities desk
  4. Short for mixing desk.
    • 2009, Rick Snoman, Dance Music Manual: Tools, Toys and Techniques, page 69:
      Each aux out is connected to an effects unit and the signal is then returned into the desk.
  5. A station for a string player in an orchestra, consisting of a chair and a music stand, or a row of such stations.
    • 2003, Sheila M. Nelson, The Violin and Viola: History, Structure, Techniques[1], page 158:
      [] at best a competent viola player occupies a first desk, so that he may play the occasional solos for that instrument; but I have even seen this function performed by the leaderof the first violins.
    • 2006, Gabriel Banat, The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow[2], page 270:
      First desk: Lalance, chevalier de, composer; Meslay, Masson de, President of the exchequer, amateur; Blasius, Pierre, the elder, professor of music; Second desk: []
    • 2014, Reuben Hersh, Peter Lax, Mathematician[3], page 46:
      Lori performed for years with the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski as a first-desk violinist. (She says that Stokowski was not a Russian but an Englishman named Stokes. His Russian accent varied a lot.)


Coordinate terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]


  • Irish: deasc
  • Welsh: desg


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


desk (third-person singular simple present desks, present participle desking, simple past and past participle desked)

  1. (transitive) To shut up, as in a desk; to treasure. (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  2. (transitive) To equip with a desk or desks.
    • 1775, Henry VII (King of England), The will of king Henry vii [ed. by T. Astle.]., page 6:
      But also that the said Chapell be desked, and the windowes of our said Chapell be glased, with Stores, Ymagies, Armes, Bagies ami Cognossaunts, as is by us redily divised, and in picture delivered to the Priour of Saunt Bartilmews besid Smythfel, maistre of the works of our said Chapell;
    • 1914, The Builder - Volume 106, page 528:
      The teaching accommodation is to be as follows ;— Senior Mixed Department—Five rooms of equal area, four of which are each to be desked for forty scholars and one to be desked for thirty-two scholars
    • 2001, Bonnie M Gulan, A Collection of Nodding Off Stories, page 64:
      Each row of desked benches was stepped up a step from the other until the top row of desked benches seemed to hit its high ceiling.
  3. (transitive, journalism) To reject (an article submitted to a newspaper or academic journal etc.) on initial receipt, without reviewing it further.


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of dosk