Word of The Day for Sunday, July 3, 2011

desultory

des•ul•tor•y (DES-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee)  adj

Definition:
1. having no set plan; haphazard or random; lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order
2. moving or jumping from one thing to another; digressing from or unconnected with the main subject
desultoriness noun;  desultorily adverb

Origin:
1580s; from L. desultorius, adj. form of desultor "hasty, casual, superficial," lit. a noun meaning "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" + salire "to jump, leap"; sense of "irregular, without aim or method" is c.1740

Related:
Synonyms: aimless, chance, chaotic, deviating, erratic, haphazard, orderless, rambling, unmethodical, unstable, unsystematic
Related Words: salient, salacious, saute, resilience, consilience, assail, assault, insult

Sentence Examples:
• The Devil's Dictionary was begun in a weekly paper in 1881, and was continued in a desultory way at long intervals until 1906. - The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce

• If she had appeared to be catching a train, he might have inferred that he had come on her in the act of transition between one and another of the country-houses which disputed her presence after the close of the Newport season; but her desultory air perplexed him. She stood apart from the crowd, letting it drift by her to the platform or the street, and wearing an air of irresolution which might, as he surmised, be the mask of a very definite purpose. - House of Mirth, Edith Wharton

• His measured, springless walk was the walk of the skilled countryman as distinct from the desultory shamble of the general labourer; while in the turn and plant of each foot there was, further, a dogged and cynical indifference personal to himself, showing its presence even in the regularly interchanging fustian folds, now in the left leg, now in the right, as he paced along. - The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy

Sources: Free Dictionary, Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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