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I am looking for a verb that means that a process misses a step occasionally.

This would be for a case where a machine or process sometimes, but not always, produces incorrect results. For programming code this is not necessarily because of a logical bug in the code, but because of e.g. the software application not working optimally in the OS environment it is used in. For physical machines this could probably happen because of some tolerance of a lever or something like that.

Is there like a way to say that e.g. "the machine is [insert verb here]"

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    "Misfire", "hiccup", "miss a beat". – Hot Licks Jan 31 '15 at 19:59
  • @HotLicks These sound like answers to me. – bib Feb 1 '15 at 1:46
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"stutter" ..................

  • No; stuttering does not exactly match the occasional missing of a beat. You'd need 'gave the occasional stutter'. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 31 '15 at 23:35
  • If it's a regular pattern, it's a syncopated stutter. – John Lawler Feb 1 '15 at 16:36
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I've heard people say that a system "glitched" when a normally reliable system produced an incorrect result. For your sentence, that would be "the machine is glitching." One definition of glitch is

A sudden instance of malfunctioning or irregularity in an electronic system

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It sounds like the situations you describe are "intermittent" failures.

"The gears fail intermittently when used underwater."

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