- a sudden, acute attack or manifestation of a disease, especially one marked by convulsions or unconsciousness: a fit of epilepsy.
- an onset, spell, or period of emotion, feeling, inclination, activity, etc.: a fit of anger; a fit of weeping.
- by/in fits and starts, at irregular intervals; intermittently: This radio works by fits and starts.
- throw a fit, to become extremely excited or angry: Your father will throw a fit when he hears what you have done.
Origin of fit2
- to be appropriate or suitable for (a situation, etc)
- to be of the correct size or shape for (a connection, container, etc)
- (tr) to adjust in order to render appropriatethey had to fit the idea to their philosophy
- (tr) to supply with that which is needed
- (tr) to try clothes on (someone) in order to make adjustments if necessary
- (tr) to make competent or readythe experience helped to fit him for the task
- (tr) to locate with care
- (intr) to correspond with the facts or circumstances
- suitable to a purpose or design; appropriate
- having the right qualifications; qualifying
- in good health
- worthy or deservinga book fit to be read
- (foll by an infinitive) in such an extreme condition that a specified consequence is likelyshe was fit to scream; you look fit to drop
- mainly British informal (of a person) sexually attractive
- the manner in which something fits
- the act or process of fitting
- statistics the correspondence between observed and predicted characteristics of a distribution or modelSee goodness of fit
- pathol a sudden attack or convulsion, such as an epileptic seizure
- a sudden spell of emotiona fit of anger
- an impulsive period of activity or lack of activity; mooda fit of laziness
- give a person a fit to surprise a person in an outrageous manner
- have a fit or throw a fit informal to become very angry or excited
- in fits and starts or by fits and starts in spasmodic spells; irregularly
- (intr) informal to have a sudden attack or convulsion, such as an epileptic seizure
- archaic a story or song or a section of a story or song
Word Origin and History for by fits and starts
"be suitable," probably from early 15c.; "to be the right shape," 1580s, from fit (adj.). Related: Fitted; fitting. Fitted sheets is attested from 1963.
part of a poem, Old English fitt, of unknown origin.
1823, "the fitting of one thing to another," later (1831) "the way something fits." Originally "an adversary of equal power" (mid-13c.), obscure, possibly from Old English fitt "a conflict, a struggle" (see fit (n.2)).
"paroxysm, sudden attack" (as of anger), 1540s, probably via Middle English sense of "painful, exciting experience" (early 14c.), from Old English fitt "conflict, struggle," of uncertain origin, with no clear cognates outside English. Perhaps ultimately cognate with fit (n.1) on notion of "to meet." Phrase by fits and starts first attested 1610s.
"suited to the circumstances, proper," mid-15c., of unknown origin, perhaps from Middle English noun fit "an adversary of equal power" (mid-13c.), which is perhaps connected to fit (n.1). Related: Fitter; fittest. Survival of the fittest (1867) coined by H. Spencer.
Idioms and Phrases with by fits and starts
by fits and starts
see fits and starts.