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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Executions in Texas have been sporadic in the last two years, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with just three lethal injections carried out last year and three so far this year. Juan A. Lozano, Chron, 11 Oct. 2021 Uzomah and Allie-Cox both found the end zone twice, but their usage has been sporadic. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, 6 Oct. 2021 In a business where jobs can be sporadic, Randolph has to work more than 400 hours every six months to keep his health and pension coverage — and make ends meet. Anousha Sakoui, Los Angeles Times, 6 Oct. 2021 Even still, Bradley’s playing time has been sporadic due to his offensive woes. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 18 Sep. 2021 Autumn days in India are typically hot and humid with sporadic rains interspersed with sweltering heat. Cecilia Rodriguez, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have struck Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2021 For the sporadic cases that occur, the Minister also added that Iceland will continue to aggressively test, perform contact tracing, and ask likely contacts of an infected person to quarantine. Jessica Poitevien, Travel + Leisure, 29 June 2021 Others have looked troubling but caused only sporadic outbreaks. Maggie Fox, CNN, 30 Aug. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About sporadic

Time Traveler for sporadic

Time Traveler

The first known use of sporadic was circa 1689

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About sporadic

Dictionary Entries Near sporadic

Sporades

sporadic

sporadically

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for sporadic

Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sporadic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sporadic. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

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 sporadic (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on sporadic

Nglish: Translation of sporadic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sporadic for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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