des·ul·to·ry (dĕsəl-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 the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.