from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Occurring at irregular intervals or in isolated or scattered places; having no pattern or order: synonym: periodic.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In phytogeography, distributed in several regions: so used specifically by A. P. de Candolle (French sporadique), in contrast with endemic, of plant genera whose species are thus distributed. Compare polydemic.
  • Separate; single; scattered; occurring singly, or apart from other things of the same kind; widely or irregularly scattered; of exceptional occurrence (in a given locality); straggling.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Occurring singly, or apart from other things of the same kind, or in scattered instances; separate; single
  • adjective (Med.) a disease which occurs in single and scattered cases. See the Note under Endemic, a.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Rare and scattered in occurrence.
  • adjective Exhibiting random behavior; patternless.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective recurring in scattered and irregular or unpredictable instances


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Medieval Latin sporadicus, scattered, from Greek sporadikos, from sporas, sporad-; see sper- in Indo-European roots.]



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  • This is a delightful example of a word that sounds exactly like what it means, and both the sound and meaning intrigue me. I bet there is even a word for "a word that sounds like what it means" there?

    September 20, 2011

  • Words that represent “the sound of the thing signified” are onomatopoeic (or, if you prefer, onomatopœic or onomatopoetic); the property itself (as well as its use) is called onomatopoeia. (Wordnik is crawling with lists of examples.)

    September 20, 2011

  • Thanks! I remember that word now. Not sure where I discovered it originally though.

    September 20, 2011