See more synonyms for intermittent on
  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. 2019

Examples from the Web for intermittent

Contemporary Examples of intermittent

Historical Examples of intermittent

  • At last they died off softly, like the intermittent drops that end a day of rain.

  • He had intermittent periods of numbness in the lower half of his body.

  • From within it there came a tiny hum, intermittent, almost inaudible.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • It is a kind of attention which we pay to ourselves, and is intermittent rather than continuous.

  • Jeff's face had cleared of its brooding and its intermittent scowl.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

British Dictionary definitions for intermittent


  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 intermittent

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

intermittent 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.