Recent development in vision-language approaches has instigated a paradigm shift in learning visual recognition models from language supervision. These approaches align objects with language queries (e.g. "a photo of a cat") and thus improve the models' adaptability to novel objects and domains. Recent studies have attempted to query these models with complex language expressions that include specifications of fine-grained details, such as colors, shapes, and relations. However, simply incorporating language descriptions into queries does not guarantee accurate interpretation by the models. In fact, our experiments show that GLIP, a state-of-the-art vision-language model for object detection, often disregards contextual information in the language descriptions and instead relies heavily on detecting objects solely by their names. To tackle the challenge, we propose a new description-conditioned (DesCo) paradigm of learning object recognition models with rich language descriptions consisting of two innovations: 1) we employ a large language model as a commonsense knowledge engine to generate rich language descriptions of objects; 2) we design context-sensitive queries to improve the model's ability in deciphering intricate nuances embedded within descriptions and enforce the model to focus on context rather than object names alone. On two novel object detection benchmarks, LVIS and OminiLabel, under the zero-shot detection setting, our approach achieves 34.8 APr minival (+9.1) and 29.3 AP (+3.6), respectively, surpassing the prior state-of-the-art models, GLIP and FIBER, by a large margin.