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  1. stopping or ceasing for a time; alternately ceasing and beginning again: an intermittent pain.
  2. alternately functioning and not functioning or alternately functioning properly and improperly.
  3. (of streams, lakes, or springs) recurrent; showing water only part of the time.

Origin of intermittent

1595–1605; < Latin intermittent- (stem of intermittēns) present participle of intermittere to intermit; see -ent
Related formsin·ter·mit·tence, in·ter·mit·ten·cy, nounin·ter·mit·tent·ly, adverbnon·in·ter·mit·tence, nounnon·in·ter·mit·tent, adjectivenon·in·ter·mit·tent·ly, adverbnon·in·ter·mit·tent·ness, nounun·in·ter·mit·tent, adjectiveun·in·ter·mit·tent·ly, adverb
Can be confusedcontinual continuous intermittent (see usage note at continual)

Synonyms for intermittent

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for intermittence

Historical Examples of intermittence

British Dictionary definitions for intermittence


  1. occurring occasionally or at regular or irregular intervals; periodic
Derived Formsintermittence or intermittency, nounintermittently, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for intermittence

1796; see intermittent + -ence.



c.1600, from Latin intermittentem (nominative intermittens), present participle of intermittere (see intermission). Related: Intermittently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

intermittence in Medicine


  1. Stopping and starting at intervals.
  2. Marked by intervals of complete quietude occurring between two periods of activity.
Related formsin′ter•mittence n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.