In fits and starts

A rather nice expression to describe doing something in an irregular fashion, starting and stopping at various intervals and thereby causing the action to drag out over time.

I asked Jerry to cut the grass but he’s doing it in fits and starts and it’s taking him ages.  The lawn itself looks a mess half mown like that.


The start part is easy to understand but apparently this idiom came into being when the ´fit´ part was added.  This meaning of fit refers to a seizure or spasm, like an epileptic fit.  So, fits adds this spasmodic quality to the various starts a job is being done with.

The government promised to build a new highway but progress is going in fits and starts. Who knows when they will open it?




Indisposed and ill-disposed

English loves to confuse its learners with words that seem to contradict logic.

If I am indisposed, it means I am sick, ill, off-colour. I’ll probably be staying at home and possibly in bed. It is a formal and somewhat old-fashioned word used for effect or as a euphemism.


The boss is indisposed today. He had a heavy night with his golfing partners.

If you don’t want to do something or feel negative towards a person or a project, you can say you are ill-disposed. It has nothing to do with health.


Susan seems very ill-disposed to working with Marina.  Oh, didn’t you know? Marina is dating Sue’s ex.

The manager was ill-disposed towards Eric because he felt that Eric’s department was not producing enough results.