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

So, questions to ponder over the hiatus: Is the Gargoyle King real? Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Riverdale's Winter Finale Finally Solves the Gargoyle King Mystery," 13 Dec. 2018 The hiatus could stoke further anxiety among investors, who will have time to consider several economic warning signals that precipitated the worst period of Tuesday’s selloff. David Hodari, WSJ, "Dow Tumbles Nearly 800 Points as Trade Jitters Return," 4 Dec. 2018 Despite the hiatus, Paramount, which is handling worldwide distribution, is keeping the film's Feb. 22, 2019, release date. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "Sterling K. Brown Joins Blake Lively in 'Rhythm Section' as Spy Movie Resumes Production (Exclusive)," 31 May 2018 The hiatus is another setback for the first model Musk has tried to mass-manufacture. Bloomberg.com, "Tesla Idling Model 3 Shows Musk Unable to Make On-the-Fly Fixes," 17 Apr. 2018 Despite the hiatus of the Summer Festival, a number of events are planned at RiverEdge Park, including Blues on the Fox in June and a variety of concerts and event sthis summer. David Sharos, Aurora Beacon-News, "Two Brothers takes year off from Summer Festival in Aurora," 13 Apr. 2018 The hiatus left him feeling nostalgic during his walk to the 18th green. Mark Long, Houston Chronicle, "Tiger Woods improves in final round at Masters, welcomes break," 8 Apr. 2018 Chris Carrabba's band pretty much wore itself out during its initial run, from 1999 to 2011, and a hiatus was necessary. Chuck Yarborough, cleveland.com, "Clint Black, Dashboard Confessional turn Also Playing into a history lesson," 26 Mar. 2018 Uber only just returned to Barcelona in March after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus due to the country's changing regulations. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "You Can't Use Uber in Barcelona Right Now," 26 July 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

16 Jan 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on hiatus

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hiatus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hiatus

Spanish Central: Translation of hiatus

Nglish: Translation of hiatus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hiatus for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hiatus

Comments on hiatus

What made you want to look up hiatus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to gather or build up little by little

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