sporadic

adjective
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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Other Words from sporadic

sporadically \ spə-​ˈra-​di-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce sporadically (audio) \ 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

The Jets allowed 441 points, and were sporadic on offense. Barry Wilner, The Seattle Times, "Jets owner jokingly envisions self wearing Lombardi Trophy," 24 Mar. 2019 The fighting started Monday evening and continued throughout the night, as civilians fled their neighborhoods amid sporadic gunfire. Edwin Kindzeka Moki, The Seattle Times, "Cameroon military says it killed 7 suspected separatists," 18 Dec. 2018 The Marines briefly encountered sporadic gunfire, which Safer later described as friendly fire. Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, "Did the news media, led by Walter Cronkite, lose the war in Vietnam?," 25 May 2018 Grassroots organizations for these families are sporadic, funded mostly by bake sales and 5k races and spread out in pockets of the country at random, usually where someone like Cheryl lost a child and decided to start one. Claire Galofaro, The Seattle Times, "Moms of the dead from drugs: “Where is the outrage for us?”," 29 Jan. 2019 Kostelac has seen sporadic playing time, 5.8 minutes a game, averaging 1.4 points and 0.7 rebounds. Elton Alexander, cleveland.com, "Akron Zips' Emmanuel Olojakpoke has heart surgery, lost for season," 12 Jan. 2018 Anti-junta protesters have staged sporadic demonstrations on Bangkok’s streets in recent months, demanding there be no further delays. Kaweewit Kaewjinda, The Seattle Times, "Thailand sets date of first general election since coup," 23 Jan. 2019 There's also fear of the sporadic military tension that has led to occasional bloodshed between the rivals. Kim Tong-hyung, Fox News, "Unfinished business: Moon's summit dreams echo late mentor," 18 Sep. 2018 My upper arms were smoother, visibly less red, and the sporadic bumps along my forearms were nearly gone. Karina Hoshikawa, Allure, "Skinfix's Renewing Body Scrub & Cream Combo Is the Most Effective Keratosis Pilaris Treatment I've Ever Used," 27 Aug. 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

13 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sporadic

The first known use of sporadic was circa 1689

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More Definitions for sporadic

sporadic

adjective
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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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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