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

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Other Words from fitful

fitfully \ ˈfit-​fə-​lē How to pronounce fitfully (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

Even when the fitful weather allows, the Alaska State Troopers, the statewide police force that travels to villages to make felony arrests, are a half-hour flight away. Kyle Hopkins, ProPublica, "ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network," 16 May 2019 Despite the hard work, rescuers’ progress was fitful at best, with no guarantee the water will soon recede with months left in Thailand’s rainy season. Washington Post, "Water reaches near entrance of Thai cave where 13 missing," 28 June 2018 Mexicans stand ready to clobber the three parties of the political right, center and left that have governed through the country’s three-decade transition from autocratic rule to fitful democracy. Dudley Althaus, Washington Post, "Here’s what you need to know about Mexico’s presidential election," 1 July 2018 Despite the hard work, rescuers' progress was fitful at best, with no guarantee the water will soon recede with months left in Thailand's rainy season. Tassanee Vejpongsa, Fox News, "Water reaches near entrance of Thai cave where 13 missing," 28 June 2018 During Brexit, the Lords have taken on outsized importance, demanding fundamental and worthwhile changes to the government’s fitful efforts to negotiate Britain’s departure from the EU. The Economist, "Peers fight for a place in the House of Lords," 21 June 2018 Historically, China has had a fitful relationship with homosexuality. Charlie Campbell / Shanghai, Time, "'We’ll Just Keep on Marching.' Tenth Shanghai Pride Spotlights China's Changing Attitudes Toward Gay Lifestyles," 15 June 2018 The state’s fitful efforts to either clean up or shut down Carlton Palms included an announcement two years ago that Bellwether would shutter the facility by March 2019. Carol Marbin Miller And Monique O. Madan, miamiherald, "After years of abuse and violence, 'house of horrors' for disabled might finally close | Miami Herald," 10 May 2018 In Hopkinsville, Kentucky, high winds and heavy rains gave Sherry Key a fitful night's sleep. Jeffrey S. Collins, Fox News, "Alberto's last gasp: Mudslides and flooding in Appalachia," 1 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of fitful

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for fitful

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fitful

The first known use of fitful was in 1592

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More Definitions for fitful



English Language Learners Definition of fitful

: not regular or steady


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on fitful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fitful

Spanish Central: Translation of fitful

Nglish: Translation of fitful for Spanish Speakers

Comments on fitful

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


to form ideas or theories about something

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