Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Sporadic

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is sporadic. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Something described as sporadic occurs occasionally, irregularly, or randomly across time or space.

// The team’s regular meetings became sporadic over the summer months, when at some points up to half of its members were on vacation.

SPORADIC in Context

“Over the decades, what began as sporadic nods to Black campus experiences has grown into more: portrayals that are both authentic and that challenge stereotypes about H.B.C.U. college life.” — Audra D.S. Burch, The New York Times, 26 May 2022

Did You Know?

You never know where or when the occasion to use sporadic will pop up, but when it does, sporadic is the perfect choice to describe something that happens randomly or irregularly, often in scattered instances or isolated outbursts. The word comes from Medieval Latin sporadicus, which is itself derived from Greek sporadēn, meaning “here and there.” It is also related to the Greek verb speirein (“to sow”), the ancestor from which we get our word spore (the reproductive cell of a fungus, microorganism, or some plants), hinting at the seemingly scattered nature by which such cells spread and germinate.

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