rainborick - 3:54 am on Mar 29, 2013 (gmt 0)
No. The <meta> description isn't indexed and the contents aren't matched against the search query for keywords. But since the <meta> description is often used for the snippet in the search results, it makes sense to put some effort into composing it carefully to encourage clicks. A good <meta> description can significantly help you outperform the entries ranking above you when your page does appear in the results.
In terms of rankings, I haven't seen any evidence that this tag has any impact whatsoever. Looking at the tea leaves, I sometimes speculate that it can be a positive factor in your site's overall quality score - however nebulous that seems, and I'm probably alone in this. But if it counts at all in this regard, the effect is extremely small, so I only consider the tag in terms of click-throughs when I compose them.