desultory voice


Senior Member
“Cal?” she said again, from somewhere to his left. “Do you want me to keep talking?” And when he didn’t reply, she began to chant in a desultory voice, from somewhere in front of him: “There once was a girl went to Yale . . .”
Source: In The Tall Grass by Stephen King
Context: Calvin and Beck are lost in a field of tall grass.

What does a desultory voice mean? Would it mean heistant and halting? Or rather voicing from one tone to another tone?

Related words I looked up:
desultory : lacking enthusiasm (dancing in a desultory fashion); going from one subject to another in a half-hearted way (desultory conversation).

Thank you.
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    It could be one of several related meanings: Her voice might communicate disinterest, boredom, or indifference by her tone or by the speed or cadence of her words.

    (To me, "hesitant" and "halting" suggest not disinterest but confusion, uncertainty, or nervousness.)


    Senior Member
    English but my first language was German
    “There once was a girl went to Yale . . .” is intended to be the first line of a type of verse called limerick. Limericks combine clever rhymes with mild obscenity. The internet doesn't throw up a limerick with that exact first line, but it does throw up a similar one:
    There was a young woman from Yale
    Who offered her body for sale
    For the sake of the blind
    She had her behind
    Tattood with her prices in braille
    That is the sort of thing she was chanting desultorily.
    < Previous | Next >