• synonyms


[des-uh l-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee]
  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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Origin of desultory

1575–85; < Latin dēsultōrius pertaining to a dēsultor (a circus rider who jumps from one horse to another), equivalent to dēsul-, variant stem of dēsilīre to jump down (dē- de- + -silīre, combining form of salīre to leap) + -tōrius -tory1
Related formsdes·ul·to·ri·ly, adverbdes·ul·to·ri·ness, noun


1. See haphazard.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for desultoriness

Historical Examples

  • I am afflicted by none of the desultoriness superinduced by alcohol.

    The Old Game

    Samuel G. Blythe

  • By this I do not mean sentimentalism or superficiality or desultoriness.

  • This would account for its desultoriness and medley of matter.

  • It is questionable whether this desultoriness is a matter for congratulation.

    The Hills and the Vale

    Richard Jefferies

  • What strikes us in his course of study is its desultoriness and its comprehensiveness.

    The Youth of Goethe

    Peter Hume Brown

British Dictionary definitions for desultoriness


  1. passing or jumping from one thing to another, esp in a fitful way; unmethodical; disconnected
  2. occurring in a random or incidental way; haphazarda desultory thought
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Derived Formsdesultorily, adverbdesultoriness, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin dēsultōrius, relating to one who vaults or jumps, hence superficial, from dēsilīre to jump down, from de- + salīre to jump
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for desultoriness



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper