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[fit-fuh l] /ˈfɪt fəl/
coming, appearing, acting, etc., in fits or by spells; recurring irregularly.
Origin of fitful
1595-1605; fit2 + -ful
Related forms
fitfully, adverb
fitfulness, noun
sporadic, intermittent, erratic, haphazard. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for fitful
  • The fitful evolution of bacteria supports a controversial theory.
  • By then the sky had gone dead gray, the waves rolled white and fitful.
  • But the popular acclaim of dinosaurs has been fitful and episodic.
  • His fitful attempts to present his programs as a coherent, compelling whole have been a failure.
  • But the over-all story has been one of fitful progress.
  • Punctuated by bouts of violence and fitful interludes of diplomacy, the deadly stalemate continues.
  • And, more seriously, the president's fitful behaviour is again calling into question his commitment to reform.
  • fitful power means firms often pay for television ads that viewers do not get to see.
  • And there are only fitful signs of renewed amity among diplomats.
  • In poor and rural areas, the roads are rough, the electricity supply fitful.
British Dictionary definitions for fitful


characterized by or occurring in irregular spells: fitful sleep
Derived Forms
fitfully, adverb
fitfulness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for fitful

used once by Shakespeare ("Macbeth," 1605) in sense of "characterized by fits," then revived by Scott (1810) with a sense of "shifting, changing." From fit (n.2) + -ful. Related: Fitfully; fitfulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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