Also found in: Thesaurus.


 (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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


n (of manner, approach, attempt)Halbherzigkeit f; (of conversation)Zwanglosigkeit f; (of reading)Flüchtigkeit f
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007
Mentioned in ?
References in classic literature ?
Casaubon made a dignified though somewhat sad audience; bowed in the right place, and avoided looking at anything documentary as far as possible, without showing disregard or impatience; mindful that this desultoriness was associated with the institutions of the country, and that the man who took him on this severe mental scamper was not only an amiable host, but a landholder and custos rotulorum.
The same Celtic desultoriness characterized all the rest of his life, though it could not thwart his genius.
Saintsbury, in effect, wants to disengage a Paterian Arnold for us to value because "for acute, sensitive, inspired, and inspiring remarks on the man, or the work, or this and that part of work and man--attractively expressed, ingeniously co-ordinated, and redeemed from mere desultoriness by the constant presence of the general critical creed--no critic is his superior" (History of Criticism, p.