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[desk] /dɛsk/
an article of furniture having a broad, usually level, writing surface, as well as drawers or compartments for papers, writing materials, etc.
a frame for supporting a book from which the service is read in a church.
a pulpit.
the section of a large organization, as a governmental bureau or newspaper, having authority over and responsibility for particular operations within the organization:
city desk; foreign desk.
a table or counter, as in a library or office, at which a specific job is performed or a service offered:
an information desk; reception desk.
a stand used to support sheet music; music stand.
(in an orchestra) a seat or position assigned by rank (usually used in combination):
a first-desk flutist.
of or relating to a writing desk:
a desk drawer.
of a size or form suitable for use on a desk:
desk dictionary.
done at or based on a desk, as in an office or schoolroom:
He used to be a traveling salesman, but now he has a desk job.
Origin of desk
1350-1400; Middle English deske < Medieval Latin desca, descus desk, lectern, probably < a Romance-influenced form of Latin discus discus; cf. dais, dish, Medieval Latin discus refectory table Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for desk
  • The gummy edge makes it easy to prop the tablet up on a table or desk, or even those fold-out tray tables on the airplane.
  • If you're looking for the seat of creativity, you'll find it under a desk.
  • The desk is also made of birch, its edge gently curved to echo the ceiling's lines.
  • In the room by the desk she went through a ceremony that was half a prayer, half a demand, addressed to the skies.
  • So long as o'er this desk the sorry lamp hath shone.
  • She noticed, however, that every morning a fresh cluster of azalea-blossoms appeared among the flowers on her desk.
  • He went to a little untidy desk in the corner, and began a note.
  • The sedentary habits of the desk and the loom render the exertions and hardships of war insupportable.
  • Still frowning, he went across to the desk and took out a small pack of patience cards.
  • Flowerpots and vases are placed on her desk so that they cannot fall down during the night, and in breaking disturb her sleep.
British Dictionary definitions for desk


a piece of furniture with a writing surface and usually drawers or other compartments
a service counter or table in a public building, such as a hotel: information desk
a support, lectern, or book rest for the book from which services are read in a church
the editorial section of a newspaper, etc, responsible for a particular subject: the news desk
  1. a music stand shared by two orchestral players
  2. these two players
  1. made for use at a desk: a desk calendar
  2. done at a desk: a desk job
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin desca table, from Latin discus disc, dish
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 desk

mid-14c., from Medieval Latin desca "table to write on" (mid-13c.), from Latin discus "quoit, platter, dish," from Greek diskos. The Medieval Latin is perhaps via Italian desco. Used figuratively of office or clerical work since 1797; desk job is first attested 1965.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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