The origin of the word dessert comes from the French "desservir," a word which here means "to clear the table.
The origin of the word dessert comes from the French "desservir," a word which here means "to clear the table." This, of course, referenced the dish that came after the clearing of the main dishes served as part of the meal. The earliest references to the term dessert being used are in the 1600's and arrived at the same time as the concept of serving a meal in courses, letting each part of the meal be its own experience.
While it may seem like a no-brainer now, the idea of serving a sweet repast following the main meal wasn't something that was always done. Those masters of decadence, the French, were known to serve a sweet wine as an aperitif, and it didn't take long before the concept of sweet followings to the main dish became commonplace. The birth of the sugar and honey trade helped to bolster the idea of dessert as it became easier to obtain sweeteners, though for a long time it was still known as a lush decadence reserved for the wealthy.