Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

sporadic

play
adjective spo·rad·ic \spə-ˈra-dik\

Definition of sporadic

  1. :  occurring occasionally, singly, or in irregular or random instances <sporadic protests> <a sporadic disease>

sporadically

play \-di-k(ə-)lē\ adverb


Examples of sporadic in a sentence

  1. The law was indeed tightened, prohibiting the employment of illegal aliens on the valid assumption that removing the magnet of jobs is necessary to stem illegal immigration. But enforcement was sporadic at best, and has now virtually ceased. —Mark Krikorian, National Review, 26 Jan. 2004

  2. I left Madras twenty years ago. Two marriages and three children later I am a different man from the one who left. My return visits have been sporadic. But there is great delight in a homecoming. —Abraham Verghese, Atlantic , February 2001

  3. The Bronx begins here physically, and it began here historically as well; this was the site of Jonas Bronck's farmhouse. Not much is known about him: he was a Swedish sea captain who was induced to settle the area by the Dutch West India Company. A peace treaty signed at Bronck's house ended years of sporadic but bloody skirmishes between the Dutch and the Weckquasgeeks. —Marcus Laffey, New Yorker, 15 May 2000

  4. Sporadic cases of the disease were reported.

  5. <sporadic loud noises kept startling everyone>



Did You Know?

Sporadic describes the distribution of something across space or time that is not frequent enough to fill an area or period, often in scattered instances or isolated outbursts (as in "sporadic applause"). The word comes from Medieval Latin sporadicus, which is itself derived from Greek sporadēn, meaning "here and there." It is also related to the Greek verb speirein ("to sow"), the ancestor from which we get our word spore (the reproductive cell of a fungus, microorganism, or some plants), hinting at the seeming scattered nature by which such cells distribute and germinate.

Origin and Etymology of sporadic

Medieval Latin sporadicus, from Greek sporadikos, from sporadēn here and there, from sporad-, sporas scattered; akin to Greek speirein to sow — more at sperm


First Known Use: circa 1689

Synonym Discussion of sporadic

infrequent, uncommon, scarce, rare, sporadic mean not common or abundant. infrequent implies occurrence at wide intervals in space or time <infrequent family visits>. uncommon suggests a frequency below normal expectation <smallpox is now uncommon in many countries>. scarce implies falling short of a standard or required abundance <jobs were scarce during the Depression>. rare suggests extreme scarcity or infrequency and often implies consequent high value <rare first editions>. sporadic implies occurrence in scattered instances or isolated outbursts <sporadic cases of influenza>.

Medical Dictionary

sporadic

play
adjective spo·rad·ic \spə-ˈrad-ik\

Medical Definition of sporadic

  1. 1:  occurring occasionally, singly, or in scattered instances <sporadic diseases>—compare endemic, epidemic 1

  2. 2:  arising or occurring randomly with no known cause <sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease>

sporadically

\-i-k(ə-)lē\play adverb




Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up sporadic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a talk on a religious or moral theme

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

lavender-fields-in-france

Which of these is a synonym of caesura?

megillah torrent interruption rebellion
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ