a service disrupted by continual breakdowns

frequent, repeated, recurrent, recurring, intermittent, regular
occasional, sporadic
continual, continuous
Continual = frequently recurring; intermittent — e.g.: "And [the police are] removing [the homeless] — by police rides to the edge of town, by continual issuing of citations for camping, by mass towing of vehicles and by routine discarding of people's belongings." (USA Today; Dec. 3, 1997.) Continuous = occurring without interruption; unceasing — e.g.: "Crow Canyon archaeologists want to study the twelfth- and thirteenth-century village to determine exactly when it was inhabited and whether it was occupied continuously or intermittently." (Santa Fe New Mexican; Sept. 8, 1996.) A good mnemonic device is to think of the -ous ending as being short for "one uninterrupted sequence."
The two words are frequently confused, usually with continuous horning in where continual belongs — e.g.:
• "Minutes after the arrest, Wayne Forrest, a Deputy Attorney General helping prosecute the case, told the presiding judge, Charles R. DiGisi, that the sheriff's office had been engaged in a ‘continuous [read continual] course of misconduct’ in the Spath case." (New York Times; Jan. 18, 1992.)
• "Continuous [read Continual] interruptions are frustrating because it often means [read they often mean] you have to warm up all over again or don't get a complete workout." (Montgomery Advertiser; Jan. 1, 1996.)
The two-word phrase almost continuous is correctly replaced by the single-word continual — e.g.: "The antidepressant Prozac has been in the news almost continuously [read continually] since it was introduced in Belgium in 1986." (Tampa Tribune; Nov. 24, 1996.)
A related mistake is to use continuous for something that happens at regular (e.g., annual) intervals — e.g.: "The White House tree-lighting ceremony has been held continuously [read annually] since 1923." (Herald-Sun [Durham, NC]; Dec. 6, 1996.) — BG

Thesaurus of popular words. 2014.

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  • continual — continual, continuous, constant, incessant, unremitting, perpetual, perennial are comparable when meaning characterized by continued occurrence or recurrence over a relatively long period of time. Continual implies a close or unceasing succession …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • continual — continual, continuous 1. Continual is the older word (14c), and once had all the meanings it now (since the mid 19c) shares with continuous (17c). Fowler (1926) expressed the current distinction somewhat cryptically as follows: ‘That is al which… …   Modern English usage

  • Continual — Con*tin u*al, a. [OE. continuel, F. continuel. See {Continue}.] 1. Proceeding without interruption or cesstaion; continuous; unceasing; lasting; abiding. [1913 Webster] He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. Prov. xv. 15. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • continual — [kən tin′yo͞o əl] adj. [ME continuel < OFr < L continuus: see CONTINUE] 1. happening over and over again; repeated often; going on in rapid succession 2. going on uninterruptedly; continuous continually adv. SYN. CONTINUAL applies to that… …   English World dictionary

  • continual — early 14c., continuell, from O.Fr. continuel (12c.), from L. continuus (see CONTINUE (Cf. continue)). That which is continual is that which is either always going on or recurs at short intervals and never comes to an end; that which is CONTINUOUS …   Etymology dictionary

  • continual — I (connected) adjective constant, constantly recurring, continued, continuing, continuus, nonstop, of regular recurrence, perennial, persistent, proceeding without cessation, proceeding without interruption, regular, steadfast, steady, sustained …   Law dictionary

  • continual — [adj] constant, incessant aeonian, around the clock, ceaseless, connected, consecutive, continuous, dateless, endless, enduring, eternal, everlasting, frequent, interminable, oftrepeated, permanent, perpetual, persistent, persisting, recurrent,… …   New thesaurus

  • continual — ► ADJECTIVE 1) constantly or frequently occurring. 2) having no interruptions. DERIVATIVES continually adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • continual — con|tin|u|al [kənˈtınjuəl] adj [only before noun] 1.) continuing for a long time without stopping ▪ five weeks of continual rain ▪ the Japanese business philosophy of continual improvement 2.) repeated many times, often in a way that is harmful… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • continual — adjective 1 continuing for a long time without stopping: five weeks of continual rain | The hostages lived in continual fear of violent death. 2 repeated often and over a long period of time; frequent: The continual trips to my mother s house… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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