fits and starts
- (idiomatic) Activity which is intermittent, variable in intensity, and prolonged by interruptions.
- Progress in this project has come in fits and starts.
- 1681, John Dryden, "Epilogue for ‘The King's House’," lines 1-2,
- We act by fits and starts, like drowning men,
- But just peep up, and then pop down again.
1841, Charles Dickens, chapter 2, in Master Humphrey's Clock:
- I spent the night in fits and starts, getting up and lying down full twenty times, and dreaming the same dream over and over again.
- 1955, "Old Play in Manhattan," Time, 26 Dec.,
- It is a stammered, sleazy chronicle, told by fits and starts in bits and pieces, and constantly interrupted by the director and actors.
- 2007, "Australian Premier vows troops pullout," Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), 22 Dec.,
- Paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fits and starts undermines US military planning and risks the gains made by US troops.