hi·​a·​tus | \hī-ˈā-təs \

Definition of hiatus 

1a : a break in or as if in a material object : gap the weedy hiatus between the town and the railroad— Willa Cather the hiatus between the theory and the practice of the party— J. G. Colton

b biology : a gap or passage in an anatomical part or organ

2a : an interruption in time or continuity : break especially : a period when something (such as a program or activity) is suspended or interrupted after a 5-year hiatus from writing a summer hiatus

b : the occurrence of two vowel sounds without pause or intervening consonantal sound

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Did You Know?

Hiatus comes from "hiare," a Latin verb meaning "to gape" or "to yawn," and first appeared in English in the middle of the 16th century. Originally, the word referred to a gap or opening in something, such as a cave opening in a cliff. In the 18th century, Laurence Sterne used the word humorously in his novel Tristram Shandy, writing of "the hiatus in Phutatorius's breeches." These days, "hiatus" is usually used in a temporal sense to refer to a pause or interruption (as in a song), or a period during which an activity is temporarily suspended (such as a hiatus from teaching).

Examples of hiatus in a Sentence

The band is making an album again after a five-year hiatus. steam was rising from an hiatus in the ground

Recent Examples on the Web

Since then, the show has been on an extended hiatus, taking time to put in the work so that Season Two lives up to the hype. Matt Miller, Esquire, "Westworld Season Two Will Add New Parks and More Corporate Intrigue," 22 Feb. 2018 Graves has continued teaching since 2012 but has been on hiatus from his business since having hip surgery in November. Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, "Women say SF driving instructor harassed, groped them as teens," 19 Jan. 2018 Only Porter knows how his back really feels, and where his game is at after a long hiatus. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "Why Michael Porter Jr. Should Think Twice About Returning This Season," 23 Feb. 2018 After a yearlong hiatus, genre-blurring rock duo Twenty One Pilots on Wednesday premiered two new songs and announced a new fall tour, with the fourth show happening at the new Milwaukee Bucks arena Oct. 20. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Twenty One Pilots premiere two songs, announce album and show at new Milwaukee Bucks arena," 11 July 2018 Between the two works came a visit from the superstar pianist Lang Lang, making a somewhat low key return to the soloist’s spotlight after a lengthy hiatus due to a left hand injury. Jeremy Eichler, BostonGlobe.com, "Tanglewood opens with Bernstein’s exuberance, Lang Lang’s return," 8 July 2018 Connecticut had won 10 in a row before the series went on hiatus and, with the win this year, ensured the cup remained in-state. Sean Begin, courant.com, "Governor's Cup: Connecticut All-Stars Defeat Rhode Island, 28-7," 30 June 2018 Locklear is on hiatus with her agency, and a rep for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return Refinery29's request for comment. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "Breaking Down Everything Going On With Heather Locklear," 26 June 2018 Leaders of the pack The IndyCar circuit has been racing on Belle Isle since 2007 (with a hiatus from 2009-11) and some drivers — ahem, Mr. Dixon — are more comfortable than others there. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, "Belle Ringers: Looking back on the IndyCar series' time at Belle Isle," 26 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hiatus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hiatus

1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hiatus

Latin, from hiare to yawn — more at yawn

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Dictionary Entries near hiatus



hiatal hernia




hiba arborvitae

Statistics for hiatus

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for hiatus

The first known use of hiatus was in 1563

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More Definitions for hiatus



English Language Learners Definition of hiatus

: a period of time when something (such as an activity or program) is stopped


hi·​a·​tus | \hī-ˈāt-əs \

Medical Definition of hiatus 

: a gap or passage through an anatomical part or organ especially : an opening through which another part or organ passes (such as the opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus and vagus nerves pass)

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Comments on hiatus

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something that serves to warn or remind

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