Definition of desultory in English:


Syllabification: des·ul·to·ry
Pronunciation: /ˈdesəlˌtôrē


1Lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm: a few people were left, dancing in a desultory fashion
More example sentences
  • Some putter along in a slightly languid and desultory fashion.
  • The rather desultory attempts to bring ‘democracy’ to post-Taliban Afghanistan speak volumes.
  • Every ten to fifteen years, the earth wobbles in a desultory fashion somewhere in these islands and a roof slate or two drops off.
casual, cursory, superficial, token, perfunctory, half-hearted, lukewarm; random, aimless, erratic, unmethodical, unsystematic, chaotic, inconsistent, irregular, intermittent, sporadic, fitful
1.1(Of conversation or speech) going constantly from one subject to another in a halfhearted way; unfocused: the desultory conversation faded
More example sentences
  • Two dusky stable hands were leading a pair of thoroughbred around the ‘cooling rings’ of adjoining stables at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and engaging in desultory conversation.
  • As we near the end of the trail, Thomsen and I have a desultory conversation about how the Sierra are changing: more traffic, more big houses, more kids concerned only with what's on sale at the mall.
  • In the lounge room of the Sydney apartment, the desultory conversation suggests the housemates might as well be on different planets.
1.2Occurring randomly or occasionally: desultory passengers were appearing
More example sentences
  • Unfortunately, the propagation of another leg to the equity bubble, however rapid the money pumping, will still require that earnings show at least the occasional desultory promise of improvement.
  • The arrivals terminal has its own rhythm: the early desultory pulses of the automatic door, then the great disgorge, and finally, as the crowd wilts away, the trickle of presumably more complicated arrivals.
  • While the Joes concentrate their fire and quickly eliminate Cobra's heavy weapons, the Cobra forces offer little more than a token resistance and a few seconds of desultory return fire.


late 16th century (also in the literal sense 'skipping around'): from Latin desultorius 'superficial' (literally 'relating to a vaulter'), from desultor 'vaulter', from the verb desilire.



Pronunciation: /-ˌtôrəlē/
More example sentences
  • In the 1948 war that followed the establishment of Israel, and in the Six Day War of 1967, Iraq fought somewhat desultorily against Israel's existence.
  • I have been off sick with decidedly dodgy tummy and jelly-like legs, and have lain around the house being languid, playing a small selection of CDs repeatedly and desultorily surfing the interwebnet.
  • Valuable blogging time…… has been sacrificed to the arduous pursuit of lying in the garden soaking up the sun whilst gently quaffing on wine and desultorily reading a book.


More example sentences
  • But this apparent desultoriness has been necessary, for I knew not for what branch of science I should eventually have to declare myself.
  • Halsey, a young American who idolized the great explorers of the past, chose to record his expedition in logbook style, with its inherent dangers of desultoriness and plodding.
  • As she never accused herself of desultoriness, it was to be presumed that she felt satisfied with the brief but vigorous efforts of her acute intelligence.

Definition of desultory in:

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Word of the day nous
Pronunciation: naʊs
common sense; practical intelligence