oc·​ca·​sion·​al | \ ə-ˈkāzh-nəl How to pronounce occasional (audio) , -ˈkā-zhə-nᵊl\

Definition of occasional

1a : of or relating to a particular occasion a budget able to meet occasional demands as well as regular ones
b : created for a particular occasion occasional verse occasional music
2 : acting as the occasion or contributing cause of something occasional causes for creating apparent effects
3 : encountered, occurring, appearing, or taken at irregular or infrequent intervals occasional visitors an occasional vacation found occasional errors occasional episodes of chest pain
4 : acting in a specified capacity from time to time an occasional lecturer an occasional essayist
5 : designed or constructed to be used as the occasion demands occasional furniture

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of occasional in a Sentence

She receives occasional phone calls from her mother. There will be occasional showers during the morning. Most mornings, we'll see deer or the occasional bear walking past our house. He tells an occasional joke to keep his students interested. I need to take occasional breaks from work. Sure, I drink an occasional glass of wine from time to time. She's an occasional lecturer at the university.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Johansson said he's seen the number of migrant children brought in by Border Patrol or ICE agents climb from rare and occasional a decade ago, to five or six a month since last September. Bob Ortega, CNN, "Doctor says Border Patrol often misses early signs of illness in migrant children," 1 July 2019 He was hunched over a map, making calculations with occasional reference to the instruments before him. David Canfield, EW.com, "First Look: The Andromeda Strain is back with a new look for its 50th anniversary," 26 June 2019 Musk recently reached a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which had accused him of breaching a prior agreement requiring Musk to receive preapproval for his routinely strange and occasional market-moving tweets. Hamza Shaban, Washington Post, "Elon Musk is still on Twitter after saying he ‘just deleted’ his account," 17 June 2019 But this event, with its chocolate sauce and occasional party drugs such as ecstasy, was considered an important bonding experience for the community. Zoe Schiffer, SFChronicle.com, "Low-income students question whether Berkeley co-ops are living up to mission," 9 June 2019 Individual pigeons get the occasional mention, but not often. Hilda Kean, WSJ, "‘Operation Columba’ Review: Carriers of Hope," 7 Nov. 2018 Baltimore readers will enjoy the occasional local references. Mary Carole Mccauley, baltimoresun.com, "For author Michael Chabon, fatherhood is his driving passion," 15 June 2018 Southbound Telegraph will have occasional single-lane closures during slow hours throughout July. Micah Walker, Detroit Free Press, "Telegraph under construction in Redford due to bridge repairs," 21 June 2019 The slender slasher with the ability to play dogged defense and hit an occasional jumper, McCaw seemed like the perfect fit for the Warriors. Jon Becker, The Mercury News, "Grading every Warriors draft pick in Joe Lacob Era," 20 June 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of occasional

1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for occasional

Middle English occasyonal "occurring at intervals," borrowed from Medieval Latin occāsiōnālis "opportune, incidental," from occāsiōn-, occāsiō occasion entry 1 + Latin -ālis -al entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about occasional

Statistics for occasional

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for occasional

The first known use of occasional was in 1611

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for occasional



English Language Learners Definition of occasional

: happening or done sometimes but not often : not happening or done in a regular or frequent way
: sometimes doing a particular job or activity


oc·​ca·​sion·​al | \ ə-ˈkā-zhə-nᵊl How to pronounce occasional (audio) \

Kids Definition of occasional

: happening or met with now and then They went to an occasional movie.

Other Words from occasional

occasionally adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on occasional

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!