Saturday, April 21, 2007

oft repeated word of the night


Pronunciation: 'de-s&l-"tor-E also -z&l-
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin desultorius, literally, of a circus rider who leaps from horse to horse, from desilire to leap down, from de- + salire to leap -- more at SALLY
1 : marked by lack of definite plan, regularity, or purpose [a dragged-out ordeal of...desultory shopping -- Herman Wouk]
2 : not connected with the main subject
3 : disappointing in progress, performance, or quality [a desultory fifth place finish] [a desultory wine]

I'm on page 69 of Henry James's Portrait of a Lady and I have just encountered some variation of the word "desultory" again, for at least the sixth time. The first two times were within the first three pages of the book! Alright, already. Give it a rest.

Meanwhile, note the example phrase to defintion number one. That's my whole weekend: desultory shopping. No, more like *insultory* shopping.

Thanks, as always, to Merriam Webster online.


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