- lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
- digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
Origin of desultory
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for desultory
The Americans and their allies are carrying out a desultory air campaign in Syria that appears focused on support for the Kurds.Time Is Running Out for Obama on Syria
October 30, 2014
Yammara has been sleeping in desultory fashion with a student, Aura, who then turns up pregnant and moves in with him.Haunted by the Coca Leaf in ‘The Sound of Things Falling’
July 31, 2013
His closing argument was a “desultory mess,” so bad that he lost the case.Errol Morris’s “A Wilderness of Error” Revisits Jeffrey MacDonald Case
August 30, 2012
Most of that is the desultory ticky-tacky kind that litters the right side of people's Facebook profiles.Facebook's Dilemma: Invade Privacy or Go Bust
May 24, 2012
Libya sank into civil war with NATO's desultory participation taking it toward stalemate, maybe even break-up.Middle East Revolutions Off the Rails
April 10, 2011
After some desultory conversation I told him who I was and how I came to be there.Biography of a Slave
The best as a novel it cannot be called, because the action is desultory in the extreme.Sir Walter Scott
They did not even answer the desultory fire directed at the loopholes.A Set of Six
Troops may be exposed to desultory shelling during the day or night.Gallipoli Diary, Volume 2
The interchange of musketry, eastward there, had a desultory, waiting sound.The Long Roll
- passing or jumping from one thing to another, esp in a fitful way; unmethodical; disconnected
- occurring in a random or incidental way; haphazarda desultory thought
Word Origin and History for desultory
1580s, "skipping about," from Latin desultorius "hasty, casual, superficial," adjective form of desultor (n.) "a rider in the circus who jumps from one horse to another while they are in gallop," from desul-, stem of desilire "jump down," from de- "down" (see de-) + salire "to jump, leap" (see salient (adj.)). Sense of "irregular, without aim or method" is c.1740. Related: Desultorily; desultoriness.