Thursday, December 26, 2019


When I was a kid, the backs of comic books would advertise, "Use a word ten times in a day and it is yours." And I guess it is somehow fitting to circle back on that invocation.

Why it is, I don't know, but I seem to have a perennial brain fart about the word "desultory." I simply cannot remember its meaning and usage. (desultory:
"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 desultory comments
3 : disappointing in progress, performance, or quality a desultory fifth place finish a desultory wine")
The word does not flow along my vocabulary circuits. It doesn't fit as other words do. Its music and meaning escape me again and again. Again and again I bump up against the word and fail to get it right, find its home.
I try using it ten times in a day, but the word sniggers like some bad boy with spit balls at the back of the class room. You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man.
I console myself by suggesting that no matter how hard anyone might try, there will always be some strand of understanding left unknotted, unknown and just plain wrong. Go with the flow. But of course the habit is still strong: Improve and understand ... improve and understand ... improve and tara-diddle.
Another thing still unknown.


  1. How.many circumstance are likely to occur either to you or in your surroundings that merit the exact word "desultory"? My bet is not many.

    One of the most desultory things in my life is ambling through assorted blogs such as yours on an irregular basis.

    Taken as a whole, your blog certainly seems desultory, but in fact one can tease out themes without much effort.

    To be fair, the word will likely remain in the last 3,000 or so of my vocabulary. I probably will never have the desire to use it and will need to look it up if I come across it when reading some pretentious fiction.