“I was reading a book when my cat interrupted me by jumping on my lap.”

Now consider this:

“I was reading a book when my cat jumped on my lap, though I continued to read uninterrupted.”

In the first example, the second action interrupts the first. That is an interruption.

As Cambridge puts it, an interruption is “an occasion when someone or something stops something from happening for a short period.”

But what if there was “an occasion when something occurs momentarily while something else is happening without interrupting it,” like in my second example? What would you call that?

I found several synonyms of “interruption,” but none of their definitions matched my idea. I guess it's a lexical gap.

I came up with an idea: intercurrence and to intercur.


“I was reading a book when my cat intercurred me by jumping on my lap.”

In other words, my cat jumped on my lap, but that did not interrupt my reading. A better definition of the noun might be: “An action or occurrence, which is expected to interrupt another progressive one, but doesn't.” The verb's definition would be: “To do something which is expected to interrupt a progressive action or event, but doesn't.” The verb is an action verb, transitive, and regular.

What are some better words for this?

How they will be used:

  • My cat caused a ____(noun)____ by jumping on my lap, but that did not interrupt my reading.
  • I was reading a book when my cat ____(verb)____ed me by jumping on my lap.
  • Well, if you want to bring an obscure English word into general usage, you'll have to sprinkle it liberally in a pretty damn fine book. Even then, you'll have to get it past your editors. Take my advice: if it didn't happen, don't mention it.
    – Mick
    Oct 9, 2016 at 18:37
  • Uninterrupted is an actual verb which is defined by Google as "without a break in continuity.". I think it fits in perfectly. I don't see any problem in using that. Ho about 'unhampered'? But uninterrupted fits best.
    – Vanpram P
    Oct 10, 2016 at 2:03
  • Another avenue to explore, describing the reaction to this specific kind of interruption: “...I continued to read undeterred.”
    – mick
    Mar 8, 2018 at 21:28

3 Answers 3


A distraction results in loss of concentration but does not necessarily cause an interruption.

My cat caused a distraction by jumping on my lap, but that did not interrupt my reading.
I was reading a book when my cat distracted me by jumping on my lap.


distraction NOUN

1 A thing that prevents someone from concentrating on something else.
‘the firm found passenger travel a distraction from the main business of moving freight’

‘The whole Christmas season is a distraction from the weather.’
‘Junior faculty members, in particular, want to ensure that their blogs are not a distraction from their primary research.’

distract VERB

[WITH OBJECT] 1 Prevent (someone) from concentrating on something.
‘don't allow noise to distract you from your work’

  • This would work well with driving: one might be distracted for a moment but continue driving. The same could apply to reading. It simply requires a distraction sufficiently minor not to cause an actual interruption (i.e., stoppage). If you had to stop to pet the cat, move the cat, of feed the cat, would any of those rise to the level of an interruption? Anyway, good answer. Oct 10, 2016 at 15:41
  • Would that not depend on what you define as an interruption? To be distracted by something else qualifies as an interruption, albeit short, to me.
    – user199794
    Oct 11, 2016 at 6:32

We do have a common word for this, but it's a conjunction, rather than a verb. From Cambridge Dictionary:

while conjunction (DURING) ​

during the time that, or at the same time as:
I read it while you were drying your hair.
"I’m going to the post office." "While you’re there can you get me some stamps?"

So for your example,

The cat jumped in my lap while I was reading.


While I was reading, the cat jumped in my lap.

The first seems clearer to me; also note that I would use in rather than on to suggest that the cat jumped on your lamp and then stayed there; if the cat instead jumped on and then off again immediately, I would say the cat ran across my lap or whatever is most descriptive of the actual action (still while I was reading assuming you just ignored it all).




  1. to interfere with : interrupt <disturbing the flow of traffic>
  2. to destroy the tranquillity or composure of <the noisy lawnmower disturbed their sleep>

For example:

I was reading a book when my cat disturbed me by jumping on my lap.



    something that takes attention away from what is happening

For example:

My cat caused a diversion by jumping on my lap, but that did not interrupt my reading.

Also, the verb disturb is the root of the noun disturbance, which can be used similarly:

My cat caused a disturbance by jumping on my lap, but that did not interrupt my reading.

Definitions are from Merriam-Webster.

  • You should add OP’s other sentence using disturbance
    – Jim
    Oct 11, 2016 at 1:09

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