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 (dĕs′əl-tôr′ē, dĕz′-)
1. Moving or jumping from one thing to another; disconnected: "She had suddenly begun speaking, after sitting silently through several hours of desultory discussion ... about the Resistance" (Adam Nossiter).
2. Occurring randomly or sporadically. See Synonyms at chance.

[Latin dēsultōrius, leaping, from dēsultor, a leaper, from dēsultus, past participle of dēsilīre, to leap down : dē-, de- + salīre, to jump; see sel- in Indo-European roots.]

des′ul·to′ri·ly adv.
des′ul·to′ri·ness n.


advhalbherzig; chat, talk, dancezwanglos; announce, answer, point outbeiläufig; they walked desultorily toward(s) the housesie schlenderten auf das Haus zu
References in classic literature ?
I have read desultorily the writings of the younger generation.
They had spent some time wandering desultorily thus, Tess eating in a half-pleased, half-reluctant state whatever d'Urberville offered her.
The consensus in Congress was that scandals like the fertilizer fund scam had either not been acted upon, or responded to only desultorily, under Gutierrez.
The election is presented, and desultorily accepted, as a professionally-targeted series of transactional bribes.
The initial chill extends to the first scene, a showdown between an aggrieved husband named Max and his adulterous wife, Charlotte, desultorily played by Josh Hamilton and a terribly miscast Nixon.
He reheated yesterday's soup and fed her while she stared desultorily at the white landscape, dabbing her lips with a napkin like he used to do with their son.
The arrival of the foreman with the pay-packets directs conversation to the firm's uncertain future, and the game desultorily breaks up, at which point a pointedly younger group of men begin to play pontoon --a game of no skill whatsoever, the only purpose of which is gambling.
All we know is that the man's dressed in black like an undertaker--black hat, black gloves, black overcoat--that he's driving at a fair clip (Will he hit the people desultorily crossing the street ahead?
Or did he spend his days scratching idly for bugs in a dusty yard, now and then gazing forlornly at the sky, fitfully recalling his few minutes of glory--an eighteenth-century avian version of Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin shuffling desultorily from room to room, feet forever firmly planted back on this too small and far too heavy world?
Aside from a few bravura scenes here and there, this self-conscious, tricked-up volume consists largely of gruesome anecdotes - which feel contrived for maximum gross-out value - desultorily strung together like ugly beads on a filthy string.
This was the young feminist's state of mind as she entered the bookstore on that rainy afternoon, desultorily browsing among the volumes of poetry.
Yet not a single rocket was fired from Lebanon into Israel during the years after the campaign ended until three were launched, desultorily and without effect, during the IDF's twenty-three-day operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009.