See more synonyms for desk on
  1. an article of furniture having a broad, usually level, writing surface, as well as drawers or compartments for papers, writing materials, etc.
  2. a frame for supporting a book from which the service is read in a church.
  3. a pulpit.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. a stand used to support sheet music; music stand.
  7. (in an orchestra) a seat or position assigned by rank (usually used in combination): a first-desk flutist.
  1. of or relating to a writing desk: a desk drawer.
  2. of a size or form suitable for use on a desk: desk dictionary.
  3. 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for desk

counter, davenport, escritoire, secretary, workspace

Examples from the Web for desk

Contemporary Examples of desk

Historical Examples of desk

  • 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.

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


    William J. Locke

  • For a time Grace sat at her desk with the letter in her hand.

British Dictionary definitions for desk


  1. a piece of furniture with a writing surface and usually drawers or other compartments
  2. a service counter or table in a public building, such as a hotelinformation desk
  3. a support, lectern, or book rest for the book from which services are read in a church
  4. the editorial section of a newspaper, etc, responsible for a particular subjectthe news desk
    1. a music stand shared by two orchestral players
    2. these two players
  5. (modifier)
    1. made for use at a deska desk calendar
    2. done at a deska desk job

Word Origin for desk

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

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