Desire vs. Wish

What's the Difference?

Desire and wish are both expressions of longing or wanting something. However, there is a subtle difference between the two. Desire typically refers to a strong feeling or craving for something, often accompanied by a sense of passion or intensity. It implies a deep yearning or longing that is driven by personal needs or wants. On the other hand, a wish is more of a hopeful or optimistic expression of wanting something to happen or be true. It often involves a sense of imagination or fantasy, and may not necessarily be grounded in reality. While desire is rooted in personal desires and motivations, a wish is often more whimsical or dream-like in nature.


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DefinitionA strong feeling of wanting or wishing for something.A strong feeling or desire for something that is not easily attainable.
IntensityCan range from mild to intense.Can range from mild to intense.
AttainabilityMay be attainable through effort or action.Often implies something that is unlikely or impossible to achieve.
SpecificityCan be specific or general.Can be specific or general.
EmotionCan be accompanied by various emotions such as excitement, longing, or passion.Can be accompanied by various emotions such as hope, yearning, or longing.
TimeframeCan be short-term or long-term.Can be short-term or long-term.
RealizationCan be realized through effort, action, or circumstances.Often remains unfulfilled or dependent on external factors.
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Further Detail


Desire and wish are two powerful human emotions that drive our thoughts, actions, and aspirations. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the attributes of desire and wish, examining their definitions, origins, intensity, and impact on our lives.

Definition and Origin

Desire can be defined as a strong feeling of wanting or wishing for something to happen or be fulfilled. It arises from our innermost needs, passions, and ambitions. Desires can be both conscious and subconscious, and they often stem from our personal experiences, values, and societal influences.

On the other hand, a wish is a longing or a desire for something that may or may not be attainable. It is often associated with a sense of hope or a request for something to come true. Wishes can be specific or general, and they may arise from our imagination, dreams, or external influences such as cultural beliefs or traditions.

Intensity and Persistence

Desires tend to be more intense and persistent compared to wishes. They can consume our thoughts and emotions, driving us to take action and make efforts to fulfill them. Desires often arise from a deep-rooted need or a strong passion, and they can be difficult to ignore or suppress. The intensity of desire can vary from person to person, depending on their personality, values, and life circumstances.

Wishes, on the other hand, are often more fleeting and less intense. While they may bring temporary joy or excitement, wishes are not always accompanied by a strong drive to take action. Wishes can come and go, depending on our mood, circumstances, or even the passage of time. They may be more flexible and adaptable, allowing us to let go or change our wishes more easily compared to desires.

Impact on Actions and Decision-making

Desires have a significant impact on our actions and decision-making processes. When we desire something strongly, we are more likely to invest time, effort, and resources to pursue it. Desires can shape our goals, influence our choices, and drive us to overcome obstacles or challenges in order to achieve what we desire. They can be a powerful motivator, pushing us to step out of our comfort zones and take risks.

Wishes, on the other hand, may not always lead to concrete actions or decision-making. While they can inspire us momentarily, wishes often remain as thoughts or fantasies without a clear plan of action. Wishes may influence our daydreams or provide a sense of hope, but they may not necessarily drive us to take tangible steps towards their fulfillment. Wishes can be more passive, allowing us to enjoy the idea or possibility without actively pursuing them.

Attainability and Realism

Desires are often rooted in attainable goals or aspirations. While they may require effort, dedication, and perseverance, desires are generally based on realistic possibilities. Desires can be shaped by our abilities, resources, and circumstances, and they can be achieved through strategic planning and hard work. However, it is important to note that not all desires are easily attainable, and some may require significant time or external factors to be fulfilled.

Wishes, on the other hand, can encompass a broader range of possibilities, including those that may be less realistic or attainable. Wishes can be driven by our imagination, dreams, or even fantasies that may not align with our current reality. While some wishes may come true, others may remain unfulfilled due to their inherent nature or external limitations. Wishes can provide a sense of hope or inspiration, even if they are not always within our reach.


In conclusion, desire and wish are two distinct yet interconnected emotions that play a significant role in our lives. While desire is often intense, persistent, and drives us to take action, wish is more fleeting, flexible, and may not always lead to concrete steps. Desires are rooted in attainable goals and aspirations, while wishes can encompass a broader range of possibilities, including those that may be less realistic. Understanding the attributes of desire and wish can help us navigate our aspirations, motivations, and decision-making processes, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

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