• (British) IPA: /ˌɪntəˈmɪtn̩t/
  • (America) IPA: /ˌɪntɚˈmɪtn̩t/


  1. Stopping and starting, occuring, or presenting at intervals; coming after a particular time span.
    Synonyms: periodic, periodical, patchy, spasmodic
    Antonyms: steady, constant, continual
    The day was cloudy with intermittent rain.
    Intermittent bugs are most difficult to reproduce.
    • 1564, Philip Moore, The Hope of Health, London, Chapter 13,
      Also bloudletting is good in feuers, whether they be continual or intermittent […]
    • 1698, Robert South, Twelve Sermons upon Several Subjects and Occasions, London: Thomas Bennet, Volume 3, p. 511,
      […] the Gift of Prophecy […] was in the mind not as an Inhabitant, but as a Guest; that is, by intermittent Returns and Ecstasies, by Occasional Raptures and Revelations; as is clear from what we read of the Prophets in the Old Testament.
    • 1792, Richard Cumberland (dramatist), Calvary: or The Death of Christ, London: C. Dilly, Book 5, lines 364-366, p. 164,
      […] Pale through night’s curtain gleam’d
      By fits the lunar intermittent ray,
      That quiv’ring serv’d to light his lonely steps
    • 1926, Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist, London: Millenium, 2000, Chapter 20, p. 193,
      […] by degrees the talk became as flickering and intermittent as the light of the dying fire, which they were too idle to feed with sticks […]
    • 2015, John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries, New York: Simon and Schuster, Chapter 18, p. 238,
      […] three scruffy-looking young men with intermittent facial hair and starvation-symptom physiques.
  2. (specifically, geology, of a body of water) Existing only for certain seasons; that is, being dry for part of the year.
    The area has many intermittent lakes and streams.
Synonyms Related terms Translations Noun

intermittent (plural intermittents)

  1. (medicine, dated) An intermittent fever or disease.
    • 1592, Nicholas Gyer, The English Phlebotomy: or, Method and Way of Healing by Letting of Blood, London: Andrew Mansell, Chapter 16, p. 172,
      Feuers, and especially those that are called intermittents, discontinuing agues, euen naturally at the beginning and their first inuasion, cause vomits: and at the declining, sweats.
    • 1733, John Arbuthnot, An Essay concerning the Effects of Air on Human Bodies, London: J. Tonson, Chapter 6, p. 144,
      The Bark, which had been ineffectual in the Intermittents of the former Year, was successful in this.
    • 1832, Robley Dunglison, Human Physiology, Philadelphia: Carey & Lea, Volume 2, “Circulation,” p. 146,
      In disease, the agency of this system of vessels is an object of attentive study with the pathologist. To its influence in inflammation, we have already alluded; but it is no less exemplified in the more general diseases of the frame, as in the cold, hot, and sweating stages of an intermittent.

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