Surprising Words

One of my daily emails comes from the good people at Merriam-Webster and their “Word of the Day.” The definitions are good, but it is the etymology of the words that I find fascinating. Who knew “desultory” was connected to the circus.

“The Latin adjective desultorius, the parent of desultory, was used by the ancients to refer to a circus performer (called a desultor) whose trick was to leap from horse to horse without stopping. It makes sense, therefore, that someone or something desultory “jumps” from one thing to another. (Desultor and desultorius, by the way, are derived from the Latin verb salire, which means “to leap.”) A desultory conversation leaps from one topic to another and doesn’t have a distinct point or direction. A desultory student skips from one subject to another without applying serious effort to any one. A desultory comment is a digressive one that jumps away from the topic at hand. And a desultory performance is one resulting from an implied lack of steady, focused effort.”  [Merriam Webster]

Just a little something interesting on a Friday afternoon after Christmas.