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In a word: Desultory

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:

DESULTORY

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When you feel unfocused or find yourself proceeding haphazardly, the word to reach for to describe yourself is

desultory

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(pronounced DES-ul-tor-ee). We get it in English from the Latin

desultorius

, or "leaping," from

desilire

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, " to vault, "to jump down." This sense of jumping from one thing to another gives us the English sense of lacking a plan, or purpose, or enthusiasm; being unfocused; or occurring randomly or occasionally. The weekly series you're reading now is a desultory rambling through the English vocabulary.

Example:

William Cowper: "The earth was made so various, that the mind of desultory man, studious of change, and pleased with novelty, might be indulged."

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