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Our just deserts - or desserts?

A headline on The Home Forum ("Two mothers get their just deserts," Fri., Sept. 7, page 22) prompted comments from readers and colleagues. Had our wits deserted us? Didn't we mean "dessert" - double "S"?

No, we did not. As our copydesk informed us, "just deserts," one "S," is correct usage here.

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"Desert," in this case, refers to "deserved reward or punishment." It's pronounced the same way as the after-dinner sweet. That's because the root word for this "desert" is "deserve" - as in, "we deserve a break."