Definition of discontinuous in US English:



  • 1Having intervals or gaps.

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


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