Definition of desk in US English:



  • 1A piece of furniture with a flat or sloped surface and typically with drawers, at which one can read, write, or do other work.

    • ‘I pulled on my night gown and sat at the small desk and wrote in my journal as I always did.’
    • ‘She looked ahead and saw Llewellyn sitting at a desk writing something.’
    • ‘He started grabbing various things and slamming them against walls, bureau drawers, and desks, not caring what he was throwing.’
    • ‘Bloom rummaged in his desk drawer and pulled out a laminated map of the building.’
    • ‘They're worried that they're vulnerable to another attack while officials sit behind desks writing reports.’
    • ‘Their problems seem incredibly distant most of the time, and are easy to ignore when we're sitting at our desks writing code.’
    • ‘Currently, a minimum of 38,000 pupils sit in classes without desks and write in their books supported by their knees.’
    • ‘I went into the apartment building, there was a young man sitting at a desk, reading some book.’
    • ‘Most of the students sat quietly at their desks, some apparently reading the text, others just looking around the room.’
    • ‘I made my self comfortable on a pile of maps as he sat behind his desk and started reading.’
    • ‘I woke shortly after dawn, which is normal, and sat down at my desk for the morning writing session.’
    • ‘From one of the drawers in her desk she pulled out a yellowing piece of paper.’
    • ‘You can drop under a sturdy piece of furniture, a desk or table and hold on until the shaking stops.’
    • ‘My producer reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a few pieces of paper held together with a paper clip.’
    • ‘She sat down on the chair at her desk and pulled a small mirror out of the top desk drawer.’
    • ‘We spent hours silently clearing drawers, desks, shelves, nooks and crannies in our beds, and closets.’
    • ‘He took out the strap and slammed the belt down on the flat surface of the desk for emphasis.’
    • ‘With a malevolence smile, she opened her desk drawer and pulled out a piece of parchment and a feather.’
    • ‘Both are wearing robes, Christopher is watching Lydia as she sits at the desk writing.’
    • ‘His specialty was making caskets and exquisite pieces of household furniture, including walnut desks and mantel pieces.’
    table, work surface, bureau, writing desk, writing table, roll-top desk, lectern
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Music A position in an orchestra at which two players share a music stand.
      ‘an extra desk of first and second violins’
      • ‘When the Los Angeles symphony orchestra tumbled into the red, he reorganized it, filled up its coffers - and for two years played at its first cello desk.’
      • ‘Intriguingly enough, you didn't try to make a big name for yourself as a cellist but kept your eye on a conducting career from the cello desk.’
      • ‘We could hardly keep our faces straight and some of the musicians at the back desks laughed behind their music wholeheartedly.’
      • ‘He began by telling us that he had no score; so he stood up alongside of the first-violin desk and prepared to conduct.’
      • ‘It will be fine if you plan to scratch away in the back desk of the second violins of an amateur orchestra.’
    2. 1.2 A counter in a hotel, bank, or airport at which a customer may check in or obtain information.
      ‘the reception desk’
      • ‘Last Christmas in Rome my son went to the hotel desk to order a taxi to the airport.’
      • ‘Someone else was in his bed, so I went down to the desk to check if he was in a different room.’
      • ‘Having enquired at all car rental information desks at Dublin airport, the answer was alas the same.’
      • ‘They walked together with me from the reception desk to the security check area.’
      • ‘Manchester Airport is also recruiting 17 new staff to man information desks at its three terminals.’
      • ‘The bank has started personal banking desks at select branches across the country.’
      • ‘I checked in at the desk and found myself a couch near the bathroom on which to relax.’
      • ‘She knew that she was now in the lobby, since the main doors were there and there were reception desks.’
      • ‘In the new centre, each agency has dedicated desks with banks of screens giving them the latest information and the ability to zoom in on any part of the area on detailed maps.’
      • ‘Quickly I found the information desk and paused in front of a woman who was working at a computer.’
      • ‘When I got to the hotel lobby it was deserted so I just left my room key behind the reception desk and headed out into the street.’
      • ‘They laughed and hurried sheepishly downstairs, leaving the key on the reception desk in the hotel lobby.’
      • ‘When perfected the new system will be used and adopted by fast food outlets, video rental companies, airlines, hotel check-in desks and pharmacies.’
      • ‘I had a password and access to the system in order to check arrivals at the Reception desk.’
      • ‘As I got through the main doors, just to the right of the information desk, I saw this amazing space.’
      • ‘They walked up to the reception desk and were met with a waiter who led them to a small table for two.’
      • ‘The center area held the information desks and other high-tech kiosks, decked out with intricate marble highlights.’
      • ‘Your finances are in tatters, your blood pressure is rising and the queue for the bank cashiers' desks is never-ending.’
      • ‘Last-chance providers such as foreign-exchange desks in airports and ferry terminals tend to offer the poorest value.’
      • ‘She runs the information desk - you would have seen her earlier when you signed in.’
    3. 1.3with modifier A specified section of a news organization, especially a newspaper.
      ‘he landed a job on the sports desk’
      • ‘The sports desk at the paper's office was a quarter of a very large room; here, it's literally one sports desk.’
      • ‘Nine years ago, the Times sports desk asked me to go to Wembley to write about football.’
      • ‘Rumors from the media market suggest that panic is rife at several editorial desks.’
      • ‘Reuters' global photo desks will move to Singapore, as will its graphics service, currently in Miami.’
      • ‘There's a definite air of lethargy in the air tonight, and not just on the sports desk.’


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin desca, probably based on Provençal desca ‘basket’ or Italian desco ‘table, butcher's block’, both based on Latin discus (see discus).