desultory dogToday’s word for editors, proofreaders and other wordsmiths is desultory.

A desultory person is one who lacks any drive or ambition, someone who can’t raise enthusiasm for anything, and suffers from a lack of purpose. However, although there seems no reason why the adjective should not be used of people, it rarely is.

Commonly, it attaches itself to words like “fashion” or “manner”. Thus, it may be said that something is done in a desultory fashion. You could say that a desultory war was fought which gained neither side any advantage. A desultory approach could be taken to financial planning. A man’s desultory attitude could lead eventually to homelessness.

The origin of the word lies in the Latin word desultor, which meant a vaulter. Perhaps someone who couldn’t keep still, someone who skipped from one idea to another without fixed purpose.

By |December 13th, 2014|Categories: Latest News, Words for Proofreaders and Copy-editors|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on DESULTORY

About the Author:

Richard is a director of Chapterhouse. His lifelong love of books led him from the law to publishing. His favourite animal is the rhinoceros and his favourite modern play is Jerusalem. Strangely, perhaps, he is fanatical about football and modern novels.