fits and starts

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*fits and starts

with irregular movement; with much stopping and starting. (*Typically: by ~; in ~; with ~.) Somehow, they got the job done in fits and starts. By fits and starts, the old car finally got us to town.
See also: and, fit, start
References in classic literature ?
Notwithstanding these protections, she could get none but broken sleep by fits and starts all night, for fear of Quilp, who throughout her uneasy dreams was somehow connected with the wax-work, or was wax-work himself, or was Mrs Jarley and wax-work too, or was himself, Mrs Jarley, wax-work, and a barrel organ all in one, and yet not exactly any of them either.