Perhaps these two words are confused partly because “dessert” is one of the few words in English with a double “S” pronounced like “Z” (“brassiere” is another). That impoverished stretch of sand called a desert can only afford one “S.” In contrast, that rich gooey extra thing at the end of the meal called a dessert indulges in two of them. The word in the phrase “he got his just deserts” is confusingly pronounced just like “desserts.”

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