in fits and starts


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in fits and starts

In short, inconsistent, and irregular intervals, as of motion or progress. The car was almost completely broken down, but, in fits and starts, we were able to get it to a mechanic. A: "How's the essay coming along?" B: "Oh, in fits and starts."
See also: and, fit, start

in fits and starts

COMMON If something happens or is done in fits and starts, it does not happen continuously, but stops and then starts again many times. The employment picture had been improving in fits and starts during the past several months. Denise's career plans can only proceed in fits and starts. Note: You can also say that something happens or is done by fits and starts. The author does not maintain a clear narrative line, but proceeds by fits and starts.
See also: and, fit, start

in (or by) fits and starts

with irregular bursts of activity.
See also: and, fit, start

in ˌfits and ˈstarts

not steadily; often starting and stopping: ‘How’s the book?’ ‘Oh, I’m working on it in fits and starts. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever finish it.’He made progress in fits and starts at first but now he’s improving rapidly.
See also: and, fit, start