Fits and Starts: Learn the Definition of this Idiom with Helpful Examples

The idiomatic phrase “fits and starts” is one that you may hear or see frequently during an everyday conversation or in writing. Here you will find the meaning of this phrase and some information regarding the phrase’s origin. You will also find examples of how to use this phrase properly in conversations/statements and some suggestions regarding alternative ways you can say this phrase and still convey the same meaning.

Fits And Starts

Fits And Starts Meaning

The idiomatic phrase “fits and starts” is a phrase used to describe a situation that has periods of sporadic action followed by periods of no action that follows no certain schedule.

Origin of this idiomatic saying

The first part of this phrase was used first in the 1500s. The word “fits” was used to describe a medical seizure, a condition that causes the body to jerk uncontrollably and then subsides. People with conditions that cause seizures cannot time them, thus the fit is irregular. The term existed for nearly 100 years as “by fits” and then it was changed to “fits and starts.”

“Fits And Starts” Examples

Examples in Statements

A statement made by a celebrity to an entertainment magazine during an interview about his recent movie.

  • “The movie is coming along great. It has been a process of fits and starts but everyone is working their hardest to get it done since we know fans have been anticipating it for years.”

A statement made by a politician during an interview about the current campaign trail.

  • “It has been slow up to this point. It’s been a few weeks of fits and starts. Now everyone will begin to ramp up their campaign to try and rally the most voters possible to their causes.”

Examples in Conversations

A conversation between a student and his teacher.

  • Teacher: Hey Billy, how is that report coming along?
  • Student: Oh in fits and starts, Mr. Hill.
  • Teacher: Get it finished already Billy! You only have two more days with.
  • Student: I promise it is nearly done. I just have to put all the little pieces together.

A conversation between two friends.

  • Friend 1: Are you done planning the wedding?
  • Friend 2: No, not even close!
  • Friend 1: Omgosh! What have you been doing?
  • Friend 2: I have been working and it’s our busy season. That gives me little time to plan. I have to do it in fits and starts.
  • Friend 1: I just hope you can get it all done in time.

Other examples:

  • My slimming attempts tend to go in fits and starts.
  • If you work by fits and starts, you will never achieve much.
  • I aimless by fits and starts, you can’t walk out of the world.

Other Ways to Say “Fits And Starts”

Like all idiomatic phrases, the phrase “fits and starts” can be said in several alternative ways that convey the same meaning. Some of these different ways include:

  • Off and on
  • It is happening sporadically
  • Here and there

Fits And Starts | Image

Fits And Starts