1. Irregular; unsteady; characterized by fits.
    His breathing was fitful.
    • 1605, Shakespeare, Macbeth, act III
      […] Duncan is in his grave;
      After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, chapter 123
      The cabin lamp—taking long swings this way and that— was burning fitfully, and casting fitful shadows upon the old man’s bolted door [...]
    • 2012, The Economist, [’t-say-“green-shoots” The economy: Don’t say “green shoots”]
      So fitful has Britain’s economy been that any good news is understandably snatched at.
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