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Craving vs. Desire: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 28, 2024
A craving is a strong, urgent need or desire, often for a specific item or experience, while desire is a general longing or wish for something.

Key Differences

Craving often implies an intense, immediate, and sometimes overwhelming urge, usually for a specific object or sensation, like food or a particular activity. Desire, on the other hand, denotes a more general feeling of wanting or wishing for something, which can be less intense and more enduring.
Cravings are typically associated with physical or emotional needs and can be short-term and specific, such as a craving for chocolate. Desires, however, can encompass broader aspirations or wishes, such as a desire for success or happiness.
Cravings can be impulsive and are often driven by sensory triggers or emotional states. In contrast, desires might be guided by rational thought, personal values, or long-term goals.
Cravings can be fleeting and may fade after the specific need is met, while desires can shape a person's life choices and goals, often persisting over a longer time.
Cravings are usually intense and specific urges, often physical or emotional in nature, while desires are broader, more enduring wishes or aspirations that can influence one’s life decisions.

Comparison Chart


Intense and urgent
Generally less intense, more enduring


Usually specific to an item or experience
More general and wide-ranging


Often short-term and fleeting
Can be long-term and persistent


Driven by physical or emotional needs
Driven by rational thought or personal values

Influence on Behavior

May lead to impulsive actions
Influences life choices and long-term goals

Craving and Desire Definitions


An intense longing, especially for food or drink.
After the workout, he had a craving for water.


A strong feeling of wanting to have or achieve something.
She had a lifelong desire to travel the world.


An overwhelming desire, often driven by bodily needs.
Her craving for sleep was insurmountable after the long journey.


A wish or aspiration for something to happen or be obtained.
His desire for knowledge led him to read extensively.


A powerful and urgent desire for something specific.
She had a sudden craving for ice cream.


An ambition or hope for achieving or acquiring something.
His desire to excel in his career was evident.


A strong wish that is hard to control or ignore.
There was a craving for adventure in his heart.


A feeling of wanting something or someone.
She felt a strong desire to reconnect with old friends.


A fervent yearning typically for a specific sensation or experience.
He experienced a craving for warmth in the cold weather.


Longing for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment.
There was a quiet desire for peace and tranquility in her life.


A consuming desire; a yearning.


To wish or long for; want
A reporter who desires an interview.
A teen who desires to travel.


A strong desire; yearning.


To want to have sex with (another person).


Present participle of crave


Vehement or urgent desire; longing for; beseeching.
A succession of cravings and satiety.


An intense desire for some particular thing


What defines a craving?

A craving is a strong, urgent need or want for something specific.

Can cravings be for non-physical things?

Yes, cravings can also be emotional, like craving attention or excitement.

Do cravings always lead to immediate action?

Not always, but they often prompt a strong urge to act.

How does desire differ from craving?

Desire is a more general longing or wish, often less intense and more enduring than a craving.

Is craving a physical or psychological response?

It can be both, often triggered by physical needs or emotional states.

Is desire always related to goals?

Often, but desires can also be simple wishes without specific goals.

Can a craving be controlled?

Yes, through self-control or by addressing the underlying need.

Are desires always positive?

Not necessarily; desires can be positive or negative depending on their nature and impact.

Do cultural factors influence desires?

Yes, cultural background can significantly shape one's desires.

Is fulfillment of desires always satisfying?

Fulfillment can be satisfying, but sometimes the reality doesn't meet expectations.

How do personal values relate to desires?

Desires can be shaped by one's values and long-term aspirations.

Do desires change over time?

Yes, as individuals grow and their circumstances change.

How can cravings impact health?

If not managed, cravings, especially for unhealthy items, can negatively impact health.

How do emotional states affect cravings?

Emotional states like stress or sadness can intensify cravings.

Can a craving turn into a desire?

Yes, especially if it aligns with long-term interests or goals.

How do priorities influence desires?

Priorities can guide which desires are pursued and given importance.

Is it normal to have conflicting desires?

Yes, it's common to have desires that conflict with each other.

Can desires be unrealistic?

Yes, some desires may not be realistic or achievable.

Are cravings always conscious?

Not always; some cravings can be subconscious or instinctual.

Can cravings be a sign of deficiency?

Yes, certain cravings can indicate a nutritional deficiency or other needs.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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