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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for desk
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He went over to the desk and began to scribble a name on the pad of paper.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • "I knew he'd plunge," he said, taking the chair proffered him, near Shepler's desk.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • Then he walked carelessly across to the desk and asked for his bill.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • For a time Grace sat at her desk with the letter in her hand.

  • He found Austin sitting on the chair by his desk, resting his chin on his elbow.

    Viviette William J. Locke
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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