Adjective "desultory" definition and examples



Definitions and examples


Lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm.
  1. 'Hitler's immense popularity and respect in the country gave him ultimate authority but he exercised it only in a desultory and general way - leaving most decisions and all administration to his subordinates.'
  2. 'Before the workers entered the heritage conservation scene, there had been only desultory efforts at saving historical architecture and the urban environment in Australia.'
  3. 'After moving to California for my second postdoc, and making a desultory appraisal of the ice-cream situation, I was moved to buy my own ice-cream maker and churn out the burnt caramel myself.'
  4. 'His perception was that the desultory and undisciplined Chinese people did not deserve a democratic system.'
  5. 'Slave patrols, rather than being desultory or inadequate, turn out to be one of the chief ways that the southern states enforced their peculiar institution.'
  6. 'And some desultory clicking around Microsoft Office didn't see the power consumption get much above one watt.'
  7. 'Almost every time I shop for groceries, I throw something into the cart in a desultory fashion in homage to Mary Tyler Moore, who does this in the opening credits.'
  8. 'In parts of Africa, especially the most remote rural areas, colonial rule had only a minimal direct economic effect, except for sometimes rather desultory attempts to impose taxes on people who had not previously used money.'
  9. 'Over the years, there have been some desultory attempts to turn Fungus into a film.'
  10. 'The stroll looks innocuously aimless enough, random conversation and desultory gaits all firmly in place.'
  11. 'the desultory conversation faded'
  12. 'In the absence of accurate accounting, political debate over some of the most momentous issues of the age is proceeding in an empirical vacuum, and has become much more confused and desultory than it needs to be.'
  13. 'I have also been having a desultory email discussion of some issues with moral philosopher Keith Burgess-Jackson lately.'
  14. 'There was a halting, desultory conversation, and he never mentioned the script.'
  15. 'So, he's speaking with another man in a desultory fashion (nothing that seemed important, just killing time).'
  16. 'It seemed initially that the new Indian government wanted to accomplish what it had not succeeded in 30 years of desultory negotiations under the Shimla agreement.'
  17. 'Some Islamist groups today claim to want to re-establish the post, but their discussions lack rigor, are desultory, and thus far have no wide appeal.'
  18. 'There is desultory chitchat on the verandah as evening slides into pitch-dark night.'
  19. 'Then with dawning horror you realise you're screwed - eye contact is made and you're doomed to desultory, banal small talk the whole way until you get into Waverley.'
  20. 'But officials have repeatedly postponed a second session as desultory talks have dragged on over the division of top Cabinet posts among Iraq's religious and ethnic groups.'
  21. 'As our desultory, lacklustre conversation progressed, it became clear that he was expecting me to ‘pitch’ to him in some way.'
  22. 'Ayodhya has been subject to desultory and very limited archaeological investigations since the 19th century.'
  23. 'A few minutes later, the river ford hove into sight, and desultory fire from the enemy began to interrupt the quiet of the dawn like toy cap guns.'
  24. 'There are desultory protests in the ‘pen’, but that's a shockingly depressing situation.'
  25. 'While the Joes concentrate their fire and quickly eliminate Cobra's heavy weapons, the Cobra forces offer little more than a token resistance and a few seconds of desultory return fire.'
  26. 'Long after the muezzin's evening call to the Muslim faithful drifts from the minarets across the dusty rooftops of Peshawar, the desultory rattle of gunfire can be heard.'
  27. 'A few Maori left in the pa fired a few last desultory shots on the stranded soldiers, until a second battle began.'


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.

More examples(as adjective)

"discussions can be desultory on markets."

"fashions can be desultory."

"conversations can be desultory."

"days can be desultory."

"trades can be desultory."

More examples++


Late 16th century (also in the literal sense ‘skipping about’): from Latin desultorius ‘superficial’ (literally ‘relating to a vaulter’), from desultor ‘vaulter’, from the verb desilire.