spo·​rad·​ic | \ spə-ˈra-dik How to pronounce sporadic (audio) \

Definition of sporadic

: occurring occasionally, singly, or in irregular or random instances sporadic protests a sporadic disease

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Sporadic Has Medieval Latin Roots

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.

Examples of sporadic in a Sentence

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 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 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 Sporadic cases of the disease were reported. sporadic loud noises kept startling everyone
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Recent Examples on the Web And in mainland China, sporadic cases have sprung up in multiple cities including Shanghai. Tara John, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Wednesday, November 25," 25 Nov. 2020 Posting by other influencers also remains sporadic. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Parler’s vibe is MAGA-red and unreal. Extremism by design?," 25 Nov. 2020 Throughout 2019, sporadic Twitter messages from Mr. Trump about the trade war continued to rattle investors, even though the market gained 29 percent over the year as the Federal Reserve abandoned plans to raise interest rates. Matt Phillips, New York Times, "After Chaotic 4 Years, Wall St. Is Itching to Unfollow @realDonaldTrump," 24 Nov. 2020 The region still sees sporadic attacks, mainly targeting security forces. Zarar Khan, Star Tribune, "Pakistan says soldier, 4 militants killed in border shootout," 22 Nov. 2020 In Vietnam, with only sporadic activity by enemy aircraft, the ratio dropped to a near standoff 2-to-1. Kevin Brown, Popular Mechanics, "A Fighter Pilot's Fighter Plane: PM Meets the F-15," 19 Nov. 2020 Aside from sporadic panicked pleas to ease heartbreak or find my house keys, God and I haven’t been tight like that since my bedroom walls were plastered in Boyz II Men and Backstreet Boys posters. Kathleen Newman-bremang, refinery29.com, "I Thought I Was Done With Religion — Until I Considered Having Kids," 17 Nov. 2020 And the White House and campaign have offered no evidence to back up allegations of anything other than sporadic error or fraud that wouldn’t come close to affecting the outcome anywhere. Elizabeth Thompson, Dallas News, "Rep. Louie Gohmert sees ‘revolution’ as option in face of ‘cheated election’," 16 Nov. 2020 Meanwhile, sporadic protesters gathered in some Italy’s cities including Rome and Turin to rally against the measures taken by the government. Bloomberg.com, "U.S. Tops 11 Million as Cases Surge Coast to Coast: Virus Update," 15 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sporadic.' 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 sporadic

circa 1689, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for 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

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Time Traveler for sporadic

Time Traveler

The first known use of sporadic was circa 1689

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Last Updated

30 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sporadic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sporadic. Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for sporadic


spo·​rad·​ic | \ spə-ˈrad-ik How to pronounce sporadic (audio) \

Medical Definition of sporadic

1 : occurring occasionally, singly, or in scattered instances sporadic diseases — compare endemic, epidemic sense 1
2 : arising or occurring randomly with no known cause sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Other Words from sporadic

sporadically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce sporadically (audio) \ adverb

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