Definition of discontinuous in US English:



  • 1Having intervals or gaps.

    ‘a person with a discontinuous employment record’
    • ‘However, the prospects for discontinuous, disruptive change appear slim.’
    • ‘In this discontinuous and heterogeneous present, the videomaker is witness, participant, and documenter simultaneously.’
    • ‘There is nothing to say that such unbounded economic growth will not come in discontinuous lumps.’
    • ‘But the emergent event presents itself as discontinuous, as a disruption without conditions.’
    • ‘If the negotiations fail we will ballot for action, and it will not be for a one-day strike but for escalating to discontinuous action.’
    • ‘The hanging-wall zone contained 33% of the copper and was the most erratic and discontinuous zone.’
    • ‘He is adept at using short and discontinuous notes to riff the rhythm and create tension.’
    • ‘People's networks are not homogeneous, they are really discontinuous and heterogeneous.’
    • ‘Now, walk in a straight line along those discontinuous white lines in the middle of the road.’
    • ‘Climate policy debates eventually reach the point in which the modeller is asked whether he or she has accounted for the likelihood that a change in the ecosystem will be discontinuous - in other words, a catastrophe.’
    • ‘Planning requirements mean tall residential buildings have setbacks and open areas at grade, making the streetscape discontinuous and usually unpleasant.’
    • ‘This description would be very difficult to accept without the experience of being submerged in discontinuous cultural complexity over a protracted period of time.’
    • ‘He said there were three types of strike available to them, these are industrial action short of strike action, discontinuous strike action and continuous strike action.’
    • ‘In areas of discontinuous permafrost, localized zones of discharge known as ‘taliks’ are present where the ground is unfrozen.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, debate remains a series of discontinuous leaps, structured by impactful posting.’
    • ‘Events, as elements of the discourse, or rather the pre-discourse, are irruptive and specific, and essentially discontinuous.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, subaerial erosion has made the continental sedimentary record very incomplete and discontinuous.’
    • ‘It was at times less a guerrilla war than a conventional war waged on discontinuous fronts.’
    • ‘When the brambles became impassable, we would scrabble up the canyon sidewalls and work our way along slopy, discontinuous ledges.’
    • ‘These methods provide discontinuous measurements because air has to be pumped for a long time in order to obtain just one sample.’
    intermittent, sporadic, broken, fitful, interrupted, on and off, disrupted, erratic, disconnected
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    1. 1.1Mathematics (of a function) having at least one discontinuity, and whose differential coefficient may become infinite.
      • ‘The DMD algorithm is based on pairwise spherically symmetrical-potentials that are discontinuous functions of an interatomic distance.’
      • ‘In contrast to this, discontinuous functions are a staple of classical mathematics.’
      • ‘Bugaev built a systematic theory of discontinuous functions which he called arithmology.’
      • ‘Also important is his work on divergent series and discontinuous functions.’
      • ‘And the length of the curve is again a discontinuous function of the starting point.’


Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘producing discontinuity’): from medieval Latin discontinuus, from dis- ‘not’ + continuus (see continuous).