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 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 Long Island’s progression has not been as smooth, with a few fitful starts in the direction of California’s once-dominant style of powerful fruit and too much oak. New York Times, "10 New York State Wines to Drink Now," 22 Apr. 2021 One of my friends also reported fitful sleep, with these successors to the COVID anxiety dreams of 2020. Vanessa Hua, San Francisco Chronicle, "COVID-19 vaccine's side effects come with relief," 8 Apr. 2021 But the liveliness of vaccine talk makes clear how fitful all previous pandemic conversation has been. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Why It Feels So Good to Chat About Vaccines," 29 Mar. 2021 After a year of fitful stops and starts, Balboa Park is finally reopening this week in what park museum leaders hope will be a long-overdue return to uninterrupted operations. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Arts & Culture Newsletter: At Quint, ‘Walking on Water’ still relevant after all these years," 18 Mar. 2021 The Times obtained a copy of the letter, which complained that the rail authority’s failure to accurately predict land acquisition has tangled construction schedules and caused fitful conditions along the route. Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times, "Bullet train contractor warns of further two-year delay as state struggles to secure land," 29 Mar. 2021 The pace of change here is fitful, and that has not changed during this pandemic. Los Angeles Times, "It’s been one year. Here’s how our readers feel about L.A. now," 13 Mar. 2021 He got used to a few hours of fitful sleep each night, the 63-year-old said Friday. Robin Erb, Detroit Free Press, "After a hellish year in Michigan, joy from giving doses of COVID-19 vaccines," 1 Mar. 2021 But these are not normal times: A spike in coronavirus cases is threatening the economy's fitful recovery from the sudden plunge in the spring. CBS News, "Black Friday crowds thin as shoppers go online to avoid virus," 28 Nov. 2020

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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fitful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on fitful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fitful

Nglish: Translation of fitful for Spanish Speakers

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