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[desk-top] /ˈdɛskˌtɒp/
small or compact enough to fit or be used on a desk:
a desktop computer.
Computers. the primary display screen of a graphical user interface, on which various icons represent files, groups of files, programs, or the like, which can be moved, accessed, added to, put away, or thrown away in ways analogous to the handling of file folders, documents, notes, etc., on a real desk.
Origin of desktop
1925-30; desk + top1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for desktop
  • Many first-year students moving into their dorms unpack brand-new laptops or desktop computers.
  • Some of these printers are becoming small enough to be desktop devices.
  • Decorate your desktop with images from past issues of the magazine.
  • These devices are found in the average desktop computer today.
  • How to straighten up a messy computer desktop in a click or two.
  • The output from that command should list all the files on your desktop, which you can verify by checking what is on your desktop.
  • Its still too early for widespread desktop replacement.
  • Everything he needs is inside: workspace, reference books, and desktop computer.
  • Personal supercomputers may not be as powerful as the mighty mainframes, but they are still leagues above their desktop cousins.
  • Visions of future technology don't involve being chained to a desktop machine.
British Dictionary definitions for desktop


the main screen display on a personal computer, from which windows may be opened and programs run
(modifier) denoting a computer system, esp for word processing, that is small enough to use at a desk
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for desktop

1929, from desk + top. As an adjective meaning "suitable for use on a desktop," it is recorded from 1958 (in reference to computers). As a shortening of desktop computer, recorded from 1983. Desktop publishing recorded from 1984.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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desktop in Technology

1. In a WIMP graphical user interface, the visual representation of a real desktop (the top surface of a piece of furniture) with documents, folders and a rubbish bin arranged on it. The user manipulates files on the computer by using a mouse to click and drag their representations (icons) on the desktop.
The WIMP interface and desktop metaphor was invented at Xerox PARC and popularised by the Apple Macintosh.
2. desktop computer.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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