See more synonyms for periodic on
  1. recurring at intervals of time: periodic revivals of an interest in handicrafts.
  2. occurring or appearing at regular intervals: periodic visits by doctors to the village.
  3. repeated at irregular intervals; intermittent: periodic outbreaks of the disease.
  4. Physics. recurring at equal intervals of time.
  5. Mathematics. (of a function) having a graph that repeats after a fixed interval (period) of the independent variable.
  6. Astronomy.
    1. characterized by a series of successive circuits or revolutions, as the motion of a planet or satellite.
    2. of or relating to a period, as of the revolution of a heavenly body.
  7. pertaining to or characterized by rhetorical periods, or periodic sentences.

Origin of periodic

1635–45; < Latin periodicus < Greek periodikós. See period, -ic
Related formspe·ri·od·i·cal·ly, adverbqua·si-pe·ri·od·i·cal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedperiodic periodical


adjective Chemistry.
  1. of or derived from a periodic acid.

Origin of periodic

First recorded in 1830–40; per- + iodic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for periodic

Contemporary Examples of periodic

Historical Examples of periodic

  • The periodic or compensating errors of the planets is another instance.

    Essays, First Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • The periodic time of the moon is the interval required for one circuit of its orbit.

  • But what was his surprise to observe that these alterations were not of an annually periodic character.

  • His hopes for the best had been but periodic interruptions to a chronic fear of the worst.

  • Juno was to at once begin her first contribution to periodic literature.

British Dictionary definitions for periodic


  1. happening or recurring at intervals; intermittent
  2. of, relating to, or resembling a period
  3. having or occurring in repeated periods or cycles
Derived Formsperiodically, adverbperiodicity (ˌpɪərɪəˈdɪsɪtɪ), noun
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 periodic

1640s, from French périodique (14c.), from Latin periodicus, from periodus (see period).

Periodic table in chemistry (1889) is from notion of the arrangement, in which similar properties recur at intervals in elements in the same area as you read down the rows of the table. This sense of the word is attested from 1872 (periodic law).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

periodic in Medicine


  1. Having or marked by repeated cycles.
  2. Recurring at regular intervals.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.