- lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
- digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
- passing or jumping from one thing to another, esp in a fitful way; unmethodical; disconnected
- occurring in a random or incidental way; haphazarda desultory thought
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.