Is the word deserts meaning, deserving, that which is deserved, worthy of a reward etc. only used today when linked with the phrase, just deserts? Is the word obsolete and limited to just the phrase?
I’m providing an example, from the OED, on how the word was used.
1840 Macaulay in Edinb. Rev. Jan. 357 Ordinary criminal justice knows nothing of set-off. The greatest desert cannot be pleaded in answer to a charge of the slightest transgression.
Deserts is now almost exclusively used in reference to arid regions. Also, is it primarily related to receiving punishment rather than a reward?
It’s also interesting that many people think that because it’s pronounced as desserts it should be spelled that way.
Etymology: < Old French desert (masculine), deserte, desserte (feminine), derivatives of deservir , desservir to DESERVE v. The French words are analogous to descent, descente, etc., and belong to an obsolete past participle desert of deservir, representing late Latin -servĭtum for -servītum.(Show Less)
a. Deserving; the becoming worthy of recompense, i.e. of reward or punishment, according to the good or ill of character or conduct; worthiness of recompense, merit or demerit.
3. That which is deserved; a due reward or recompense, whether good or evil. Often in to get, have, meet with one’s deserts.