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Intermittent vs. Intermit — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Fiza Rafique — Updated on April 16, 2024
Intermittent refers to occurring at irregular intervals, while intermit is a verb meaning to stop or pause at intervals.
Intermittent vs. Intermit — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Intermittent and Intermit


Key Differences

Intermittent is typically used as an adjective to describe events or states that occur sporadically and not continuously, suggesting a pattern of starting and stopping. Whereas intermit, as a verb, directly refers to the act of stopping or pausing something temporarily and then resuming it later. Both terms involve discontinuity, but intermittent describes the characteristic of such occurrences, while intermit describes the action itself.
When talking about phenomena like rain, one might say the rain was intermittent, indicating it stopped and started at various times throughout the day. On the other hand, one could use intermit to describe what the rain did: "The rain intermitted throughout the afternoon."
In medical or technical contexts, intermittent is often used to describe symptoms or signals that appear and vanish over time, such as intermittent pain or an intermittent signal. Conversely, intermit is less commonly used in these contexts, typically reserved for more general descriptions of pausing or ceasing activities.
Intermittent can apply to abstract concepts as well, such as intermittent fasting, where the fasting occurs periodically, not continuously. In contrast, intermit is usually not used in such complex or specialized practices; it is more straightforward and action-oriented.
While intermittent is more commonly seen and understood in both everyday and professional language, intermit is relatively rare and often appears in more formal or literary contexts, emphasizing the act of interruption rather than the pattern.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech



Occurring at irregular intervals, not continuous
To stop or pause at intervals

Common Contexts

Weather patterns, symptoms, electrical signals
Literary usage, formal descriptions

Frequency of Use

Commonly used
Less common, more formal

Associated Actions

Describes a pattern or characteristic
Describes an action

Compare with Definitions


Alternately ceasing and beginning again.
She dealt with intermittent Wi-Fi signal during her presentation.


To stop intermittently; to cease for a time.
The city will intermit road work until the weather improves.


Occurring at irregular intervals.
He experienced intermittent headaches throughout the week.


To suspend or discontinue temporarily.
The company decided to intermit production during the holidays.


Appearing or disappearing at intervals.
The lighthouse beam was intermittent, flashing every five seconds.


To pause or break the continuity.
The speaker had to intermit his talk due to the disturbance.


Happening occasionally or at intervals.
He attends the intermittent meetings at work.


To cause a temporary cessation.
The play was intermitted by an unexpected power outage.


Not continuous or steady.
Intermittent rain spoiled the picnic.


To hold back or delay.
The court may intermit proceedings if necessary.


Occurring at irregular intervals; not continuous or steady
Intermittent rain


Suspend or discontinue (an action or practice) for a time
He was urged to intermit his application


Stopping and starting at intervals.


To suspend an activity; cease.


Alternately containing and empty of water
An intermittent lake.


To suspend (an activity).


Stopping and starting, occurring, or presenting at intervals; coming after a particular time span.
The day was cloudy with intermittent rain.
Intermittent bugs are most difficult to reproduce.


To interrupt, to stop or cease temporarily or periodically; to suspend.


Existing only for certain seasons; that is, being dry for part of the year.
The area has many intermittent lakes and streams.


To cause to cease for a time, or at intervals; to interrupt; to suspend.
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague.


An intermittent fever or disease.


To cease for a time or at intervals; to moderate; to be intermittent, as a fever.


Coming and going at intervals; alternating; recurrent; periodic; as, an intermittent fever.


Cease an action temporarily;
We pause for station identification
Let's break for lunch


An intermittent fever or disease.


Stopping and starting at irregular intervals;
Intermittent rain showers


Stopping and starting at regular intervals

Common Curiosities

Can intermittent refer to something beneficial?

Yes, intermittent can describe beneficial occurrences if they happen sporadically, like intermittent fasting.

How is intermit used in a sentence?

Intermit is used as a verb to describe the action of pausing or stopping temporarily.

Is intermit a common term in everyday language?

No, intermit is relatively rare and more commonly found in formal or literary contexts.

How does intermittent differ from continuous?

Intermittent implies breaks in occurrence, while continuous indicates ongoing without stopping.

Does intermittent always suggest a regular pattern?

No, intermittent suggests irregular intervals, not a predictable pattern.

What does intermittent mean?

It means occurring at irregular intervals, not continuously.

Can intermit be used in technical contexts?

While less common, it can be used to describe the action of pausing operations or processes in technical contexts.

Is intermittent a positive or negative descriptor?

It can be either, depending on the context, such as beneficial intermittent fasting or problematic intermittent symptoms.

Can intermit be applied to all activities?

Technically, yes, but it's usually reserved for specific cases where pausing is notable.

What types of events are typically described as intermittent?

Weather conditions, certain medical symptoms, or technical signals can be described as intermittent.

What is the relationship between intermit and intermittent?

Intermit refers to the action that might cause a state or condition to be described as intermittent.

How is intermittent commonly used in healthcare?

It is used to describe symptoms or conditions that occur sporadically, like intermittent claudication.

Does intermit imply a final stop?

No, intermit implies a temporary pause with the intention of resuming later.

Can intermit be used in casual conversation?

It is not common in casual conversation due to its formal tone.

What is the noun form of intermittent?

Intermittence or intermittency.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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