spo·​rad·​ic | \spə-ˈra-dik \

Definition of sporadic 

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

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Other Words from sporadic

sporadically \spə-​ˈra-​di-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

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

If the arrhythmia is sporadic, there's no guarantee that the monitoring will coincide with its appearance. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "What is atrial fibrillation, and why is your watch telling you about it?," 26 Sep. 2018 Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said that after sporadic bursts of heavy gunfire had pinned several officers down, the vehicle was eventually used to reach the location and a robot searched the residence, confirming the man was dead. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Suspect found dead after shootout with police in Panama City, Florida," 22 May 2018 Scientists expect sporadic bursts to continue for at least two more weeks. Jim Carlton, WSJ, "Hawaiian Authorities Work to Protect Power Plant From Lava Flow," 22 May 2018 Health officials have started a vaccination campaign but they have been hindered by sporadic attacks by rebel militias operating in the eastern Congo region. Fox News, "Deadly Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo reaches city of 1.4 million," 7 Sep. 2018 By late Friday, fighting had subsided, and residents and officials reported only sporadic gunfire. Ehsanullah Amiri, WSJ, "Afghan Troops, Taliban Both Claim Advantage in Major Fighting," 11 Aug. 2018 Occasional sporadic gunfire could be hear over the noise of the crowd and a constant stream of ambulances roared back and forth from the fence, ferrying away the wounded. Anchorage Daily News, "Israelis kill at least 50 Palestinians protesting US Embassy move to Jerusalem," 14 May 2018 With Orlando Arcia emerging as the team's regular at shortstop since making his major-league debut in August of 2016, Pérez has seen only sporadic time there since. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With Orlando Arcia still mired in a slump, Hernán Pérez gets a start at shortstop," 17 June 2018 Barr said that some other dioceses do the same on a sporadic or case-by-case basis but don't publicize the policy. Julie Zauzmer, ajc, "Why there are only two places where Catholics can get married outdoors," 11 June 2018

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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Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for sporadic

The first known use of sporadic was circa 1689

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More Definitions for sporadic


spo·​rad·​ic | \spə-ˈrad-ik \

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 \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on sporadic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sporadic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sporadic

Spanish Central: Translation of sporadic

Nglish: Translation of sporadic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sporadic for Arabic Speakers

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