Sporadic is an adjective that you can use to refer to something that happens or appears often, but not constantly or regularly. The mail carrier comes every day but the plumber's visits are sporadic — he comes as needed.

A specialized use of sporadic is to describe a disease that appears only occasionally in random cases, and is therefore not an epidemic. Mostly, though, you'll hear this word used to describe anything that happens occasionally, like your family's sporadic trips to visit your distant cousins in Ohio or the sporadic bake sales your science club sponsors when it's low on funds. English borrowed the word sporadic from Greek sporadikós, "scattered."

Definitions of sporadic
  1. adjective
    recurring in scattered and irregular or unpredictable instances
    fitful, spasmodic
    occurring in spells and often abruptly
    stopping and starting at irregular intervals
    occasional, periodic
    recurring or reappearing from time to time
    irregular, unpredictable
    not occurring at expected times
    isolated, stray
    not close together in time
    discontinuous, noncontinuous
    not continuing without interruption in time or space
    not frequent; not occurring regularly or at short intervals
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    occurring without interruption; chiefly restricted to what recurs regularly or frequently in a prolonged and closely spaced series
    insistent, repetitive
    repetitive and persistent
    continually repeated over a period of time
    perennial, recurrent, repeated
    recurring again and again
    persistent, relentless, unrelenting
    recurring, revenant
    coming back
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