• synonyms


  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.
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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)


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for intermittency

Historical Examples

  • The precise character of the sound depends entirely upon the rapidity of the intermittency.

    The Romance of War Inventions

    Thomas W. Corbin

  • The intermittency of the social life, on the other hand, is inevitable; even the most idealistic religions cannot escape it.

  • The only things which make intimacy with a woman agreeable are difficulty and intermittency.

  • List any demonstrable effects of intermittency of streams on fish distribution within the area.

  • Variable climate characteristic of the region studied causes recurrent floods and intermittency in streams.

British Dictionary definitions for intermittency


  1. occurring occasionally or at regular or irregular intervals; periodic
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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 intermittency



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

intermittency in Medicine


  1. Stopping and starting at intervals.
  2. Marked by intervals of complete quietude occurring between two periods of activity.
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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.