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[in-ter-mit-nt] /ˌɪn tərˈmɪt nt/
stopping or ceasing for a time; alternately ceasing and beginning again:
an intermittent pain.
alternately functioning and not functioning or alternately functioning properly and improperly.
(of streams, lakes, or springs) recurrent; showing water only part of the time.
Origin of intermittent
1595-1605; < Latin intermittent- (stem of intermittēns) present participle of intermittere to intermit; see -ent
Related forms
intermittence, intermittency, noun
intermittently, adverb
nonintermittence, noun
nonintermittent, adjective
nonintermittently, adverb
nonintermittentness, noun
unintermittent, adjective
unintermittently, adverb
Can be confused
continual, continuous, intermittent (see usage note at continual)
1. interrupted, sporadic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for intermittent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She puzzled a little during the intermittent processes of undressing, over why she had let him go like that.

    The Real Adventure Henry Kitchell Webster
  • At last they died off softly, like the intermittent drops that end a day of rain.

    The Greater Inclination Edith Wharton
  • You chew betel-nut and listen, content, to the intermittent soft drip from the ends of the severed neck arteries.

    Options O. Henry
  • From within it there came a tiny hum, intermittent, almost inaudible.

    Slaves of Mercury Nat Schachner
  • At first faint and intermittent, it grew louder, and continuous, and came close.

    Tales of the Malayan Coast Rounsevelle Wildman
British Dictionary definitions for intermittent


occurring occasionally or at regular or irregular intervals; periodic
Derived Forms
intermittence, intermittency, noun
intermittently, adverb
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 intermittent

c.1600, from Latin intermittentem (nominative intermittens), present participle of intermittere (see intermission). Related: Intermittently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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intermittent in Medicine

intermittent in·ter·mit·tent (ĭn'tər-mĭt'nt)

  1. Stopping and starting at intervals.

  2. Marked by intervals of complete quietude occurring between two periods of activity.

in'ter·mit'tence n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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