Definition of discontinuity in US English:



  • 1A distinct break in physical continuity or sequence in time.

    ‘there is no significant discontinuity between modern and primitive societies’
    • ‘In the last chapter, the editors pull together a number of themes such as the future of career, continuity and discontinuity in work, meaning making, and power and conflict, all of which were raised by the other contributors.’
    • ‘Does a culture that believes something incorrect but positive about its history suffer from breaks or discontinuities, or could the experience for its citizens be a good one?’
    • ‘Although I suppose the above changes are marked more by continuity than by discontinuity.’
    • ‘From my parents, who serve as a primary reference point, I begin to understand both my uniqueness and universality together with my continuity and discontinuity with the past and the present.’
    • ‘We found at least one identifiable discontinuity in all analyses and more than one discontinuity in some.’
    • ‘That is, it is necessary to understand both continuity and discontinuity between closely related species.’
    • ‘As such, philosophy itself must orientate itself to the continuous discontinuity of the event.’
    • ‘His remarks on time and space, discontinuity and continuity are revealing.’
    • ‘Yet historical accounts of anti-vaccination campaigns - including this one - reveal more discontinuity than continuity.’
    • ‘Overall, these studies have generally underscored the lack of discontinuity among human groups and the relative homogeneity of the human species.’
    • ‘To notice both continuity and discontinuity between the texts establishes a model by which continuity and discontinuity between past and future can be recognized, and when necessary encouraged.’
    • ‘The full range of expression of characters was examined to identify breaks or discontinuities among character states.’
    • ‘Yet they may have come across moments when they discovered a profound gap or discontinuity in their supposedly continuous self.’
    • ‘Spot the glaring discontinuity in his story as related in this page.’
    • ‘These ‘breaks’ are not conceived as physical discontinuities in the course of events.’
    • ‘Vertical lines indicate discontinuities in the time axis’
    1. 1.1 A sharp difference of characteristics between parts of something.
      ‘changes in government have resulted in discontinuities in policy’
      • ‘The risk of obscuring the continuities and discontinuities within a historical period often comes up when one writes about a year coming to an end.’
      • ‘The various continuities and discontinuities that are discernible derive from the real changes that are deemed to have taken place.’
      • ‘First, research on technological evolution suggests that technological discontinuities may provide an impetus that transforms networks.’
      • ‘With all the continuities and discontinuities outlined in our separate chapters, this period was clearly fundamental for the subsequent development of Europe.’
      • ‘‘If you are running a business, you have to look at the inconsistencies and discontinuities in the market place,’ he said.’
      • ‘In both cases, the essential question remains the same: is the relation one of continuity or discontinuity?’
      • ‘Institutions, like individuals, tend to prefer stability and continuity over instability and discontinuity.’
      • ‘However, often times than not, parents that relocate to different places due to work opt for boarding schools to remove discontinuities in their child's education.’
      • ‘One of the key themes to emerge is a debate over continuity or discontinuity.’
      • ‘The underlying issue is one of the continuity or discontinuity of patterns that can help information professionals do their work efficiently and effectively.’
      • ‘As they become the subject of disagreement between political parties, there may be sharp discontinuities in policies each time there is a change of government.’
      • ‘Their whimsical nature, abrupt discontinuities and formal ‘shortcuts’ came across vividly.’
      • ‘Then there are other contradictions, hypocrisies and discontinuities in foreign policies.’
      • ‘The problem is not with the discontinuities imposed by immigration, but with the fragmentation of the self caused by the brutality and horrors of the flight itself.’
      • ‘The issue of the Old and the New Second Worlds, the transition from communism to postcommunism, the continuities and discontinuities between them, will be taken up later in this chapter.’
      • ‘Other readers might find the discussion a bit confusing about how much continuity and discontinuity exists between this world and the new creation.’
      • ‘Instead what is offered is a sense of the range of representations whilst indicating some continuities and discontinuities in theme and form.’
      • ‘In their view, the weaknesses of industry lay in lack of access to technology, limited market size, and discontinuities of policies during the postwar era.’
      • ‘Under such conditions, the discontinuities are stark.’
      • ‘In the following sections, we re-evaluate the continuity or discontinuity of magnitude and then briefly consider whether events that might be regarded as mass extinctions can be unified by effect or cause.’
      disconnectedness, disconnection, break, lack of unity, disruption, interruption, lack of coherence, disjointedness
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    2. 1.2Mathematics A point at which a function is discontinuous or undefined.
      • ‘This may be due to the QTL variance being at the boundary of the parameter space, where the maximum-likelihood search algorithm has difficulties due to the discontinuity of the likelihood function.’
      • ‘Another type of discontinuity is one where the value of Y approaches + infinity for some value of X greater than a specified value and - infinity for X less than a certain value.’
      • ‘The function has one discontinuity at = 0, and its second derivative has various discontinuities.’
      • ‘The left figure above illustrates a discontinuity in a one-dimensional function, and the right figure illustrated a discontinuity of a two-dimensional function plotted as a surface.’


Late 16th century: from medieval Latin discontinuitas, from discontinuus (see discontinuous).