1. Having or marked by repeated cycles: periodic oscillations.
2. Happening or appearing regularly or from time to time: periodic dental checkups; periodic rain showers.
3. Characterized by periodic sentences.
Synonyms: periodic, sporadic, intermittent, occasional
These adjectives all mean recurring or reappearing now and then. Something periodic occurs at regular or unsurprising intervals: periodic disruptions in electricity. Sporadic implies scattered, irregular, unpredictable, or isolated instances: spies who could manage only sporadic contact. Intermittent describes something that stops and starts, often with no discernable pattern: heard intermittent gunfire in the distance. What is occasional happens randomly and irregularly: a retired celebrity still making occasional appearances in public.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.