Can желание and охота both be used as a synonym for the word 'desire' or do they differ slightly? If I'm not mistaken, sometimes охота appears to mean more like 'inclination.'

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"Желание" is a noun which you can use with a possessive pronoun or as a subject of an "I have..." clause:

Самое большое моё желание на данный момент - согреться и поесть.
У меня есть тайное желание дать начальнику хороший подзатыльник.

And although 'охота' is a noun, you can't use it interchangeably with 'желание' in those sentences. To express desire with 'охота' you would use the impersonal form

мне/тебе/ему/ей/нам/вам/им охота...

similar, if you look, at expressions describing feelings or emotions:

мне/тебе/ему/ей/нам/вам/им тепло/смешно/кажется

If you want to use "охота" as an inclination, favoritism, then it's never abstract, but always supplied with an object in genitive with the preposition "до" or dative with the preposition "к":

Я как есть тоже имею сильную охоту до рыбной ловли...
Сколь отменна была его охота к наукам и ко всему человечеству полезным знаниям,...

The word "охота" is akin to verb "хотеть", so whatever degrees of desire can be expressed by "хотеть", can also apply to "охота", and additional modifiers can be used with it:

Уж больно мне охота посмотреть,
И охота тебе сейчас...

Interesting to note that with the word "охота" either "было" or "была" can be used for past tense.

Мне было охота прочитать про все:...
Охота тебе была с ним связываться!

As far as the difference in meaning, I think "охота" has more of an unconscious desire, driven by instinct or habit rather than organized thought. That's why one of the meanings of "охота" is the state in which females of some species (e.g. dogs) are most sexually receptive, "estrus".

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