desultory

adjective des·ul·to·ry \ ˈde-səl-ˌtȯr-ē also -zəl- \
Updated on: 12 Nov 2017

Definition of desultory

1 : marked by lack of definite plan, regularity, or purpose
  • a dragged-out ordeal of … desultory shopping
  • —Herman Wouk
2 : not connected with the main subject
  • desultory comments
3 : disappointing in progress, performance, or quality
  • a desultory fifth place finish
  • a desultory wine

desultorily

play \ˌde-səl-ˈtȯr-ə-lē\ adverb

desultoriness

play \ˈde-səl-ˌtȯr-ē-nəs\ noun

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Examples of desultory in a Sentence

  1. a desultory search for something of interest on TV

  2. a desultory discussion about the news of the day

Recent Examples of desultory from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desultory.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

The Latin adjective desultorius, the parent of desultory, was used by the ancients to refer to a circus performer (called a desultor) whose trick was to leap from horse to horse without stopping. It makes sense, therefore, that someone or something desultory "jumps" from one thing to another. (Desultor and desultorius, by the way, are derived from the Latin verb salire, which means "to leap.") A desultory conversation leaps from one topic to another and doesn't have a distinct point or direction. A desultory student skips from one subject to another without applying serious effort to any one. A desultory comment is a digressive one that jumps away from the topic at hand. And a desultory performance is one resulting from an implied lack of steady, focused effort.

Origin and Etymology of desultory

Latin desultorius, literally, of a circus rider who leaps from horse to horse, from desilire to leap down, from de- + salire to leap — more at sally


DESULTORY Defined for English Language Learners

desultory

adjective

Definition of desultory for English Language Learners

  • : not having a plan or purpose

  • : done without serious effort



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