fit·​ful | \ ˈfit-fəl How to pronounce fitful (audio) \

Definition of fitful

1 obsolete : characterized by fits or paroxysms
2 : having an erratic or intermittent character : irregular

Other Words from fitful

fitfully \ ˈfit-​fə-​lē How to pronounce fitful (audio) \ adverb
fitfulness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for fitful

fitful, spasmodic, convulsive mean lacking steadiness or regularity in movement. fitful implies intermittence, a succession of starts and stops or risings and fallings. fitful sleep spasmodic adds to fitful the implication of rapid or violent activity alternating with inactivity. spasmodic growth convulsive suggests the breaking of regularity or quiet by uncontrolled movement. convulsive shocks

Examples of fitful in a Sentence

He had a few fitful hours of sleep. Several fitful attempts at negotiation have failed.
Recent Examples on the Web Political efforts to end the fighting have been fitful. Los Angeles Times, 30 Mar. 2022 Background: Over the last year, Iran and the US have engaged in fitful, indirect talks in Vienna to revive a 2015 nuclear deal that then-President Donald Trump reneged on in 2018. Adam Pourahmadi And Bear Hutchison, CNN, 22 Apr. 2022 The project — an expansion of Interstate 49 — has been debated for decades, forcing the neighborhood into a paralyzing limbo as officials weighed plans and made fitful starts without achieving significant progress. New York Times, 15 Apr. 2022 The fitful shelling had reminded me of the discordant sounds inside a symphony hall when orchestra musicians warm up before a concert. Martin Kuz, The Christian Science Monitor, 12 Apr. 2022 The Army Corps of Engineers has been leading a fitful process to investigate the pollution and clean up the site since 1998. oregonlive, 17 Mar. 2022 The concept of collaborative police reform has a fitful history within the Justice Department, however. Washington Post, 17 Mar. 2022 There was a sense of joy despite all the crises at hand — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a fitful emergence from the coronavirus pandemic, a struggling economy and runaway inflation. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, 2 Mar. 2022 The Americans, held back during this tournament by a surprisingly fitful offense, lost only to Canada in the preliminary round. Los Angeles Times, 14 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fitful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of fitful

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries Near fitful

fit for a king



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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fitful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for fitful


fit·​ful | \ ˈfit-fəl How to pronounce fitful (audio) \

Kids Definition of fitful

: not regular or steady fitful sleep

Other Words from fitful

fitfully adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on fitful

Nglish: Translation of fitful for Spanish Speakers


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