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I just scraped my wall with a chair, so I added paint to my weekly shopping list as a ______ purchase.

The other day I went to close up a bag of bread, and realized I was out of clothes pins, so I add a _______ purchase to my shopping list.

I checked my shopping list for ________ items, and remembered that I wanted to get cookies for a snack later.

Some purchases happen on a scheduled, repeating basis -- e.g. weekly grocery shopping.

Other purchases happen on an irregular basis. They might be one time purchases (e.g. a socket wrench) or purchases that will repeat, but not in a scheduled way (e.g. command hooks, which will be purchased again at an indefinite time, such as next time you need to hang something up). They might be purchases which are motivated by an unexpected external need, or they might be motivated by whim of the purchaser (I feel like buying muffins today).

I am searching for an adjective to describe this second category of purchase.

Here are some words that are close, but which I feel do not capture the meaning I am attempting to convey:

One-time - the purchase might repeat, and even disregarding that, I feel that the category is not defined by whether or not the purchase repeats, but by the regularity of that repetition

Irregular - to me, this fails to capture the element of discretionary-ness and choice

Sporadic - again, I feel that this fails to capture the purposefulness that might be present, and instead implies a level of external chaos (like, if purchases just appear on your shopping list at random). I also perceive a connotation of scarcity in the term "sporadic", which does not necessarily apply to the category I am envisioning

You may disagree that one of the above words is not adequate. But if anyone's got further suggestions, I would, of course, appreciate the input.

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    'One-off' would be idiomatic in this sense Sep 10, 2018 at 13:38
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because naming things in programs is explicitly out of scope for our site according to our Help Center.
    – tchrist
    Sep 10, 2018 at 14:15
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    Welcome to the site! Can you explain a bit more why the words that you have already mentioned won't do? Why not use irregular? And you should know that singe-word requests are heavily regulated on this site: they are only allowed if they fulfil the conditions from the tag (hover over it). Sep 10, 2018 at 14:18
  • @Cerberus I appreciate the advice on improving the quality of my question. I feel properly chagrined, as I should know better than to submit something without first reading the documentation. Regardless of whether or not there are any more answers to this question, I've edited it in a way that I hope makes it an at least somewhat better submission, in an attempt to be a better member of the community. Sep 10, 2018 at 19:55
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    @tchrist I'm not sure I agree that this is a question about "naming" as distinct from the sense in which any word "names" a concept -- but thank you for the explanation :) Sep 10, 2018 at 20:45

1 Answer 1

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sporadic: occurring occasionally, singly, or in irregular or random instances

infrequent: seldom happening or occurring, placed or occurring at wide intervals in space or time

Definitions from, and links to, Merriam-Webster

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  • Thank you! This is an excellent suggestion. It doesn't quite match what I am envisioning for reasons I added to the main question: "I feel that this fails to capture the purposefulness that might be present, and instead implies a level of external chaos (like, if purchases just appear on your shopping list at random). I also perceive a connotation of scarcity in the term 'sporadic'." But of course I understand that others might disagree, and I thank you for providing your input. Sep 10, 2018 at 19:57

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