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

After its hiatus, House of Cards season 6 restarted production earlier this year. Karen Mizoguchi, PEOPLE.com, "Robin Wright Opens Up About Former House of Cards Costar Kevin Spacey's Sexual Assault Allegations," 8 July 2018 After a hiatus, Nintendo has brought back the NES Classic Edition. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Where to Buy the Nintendo NES Classic Edition," 29 June 2018 The Kinks, one of the greatest and most influential English rock bands of the 20th century, are reuniting after a hiatus of nearly a quarter century to make a new album. George Varga, sandiegouniontribune.com, "The Kinks are reuniting for first album in 24 years with co-founders Ray and Dave Davies, and Mick Avory," 26 June 2018 The first collection after their hiatus focused on the cat-eye and was curated by McGrath. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "Max Factor Taps Burberry Makeup Artist As Creative Director," 25 June 2018 After a hiatus of twenty-five years, Viv’s first solo album, The Vermillion Border, was released in 2012 to great critical acclaim. Longreads, "Viv Albertine on Dating Again in Her 50s," 15 June 2018 After a hiatus that spanned two decades, the famed pole returned in 2016. Bethany Ao, Philly.com, "How to climb the greased pole at the Italian Market Festival," 16 May 2018 The Harvard Polo Club, the oldest intercollegiate polo program in the United States, dates back to 1883, and was re-established after a hiatus about 12 years ago. Anthony Flint, BostonGlobe.com, "For an otherworldly splurge, beach polo at the Ocean House," 16 May 2018 Kreis has taken aim at some of the negativity on social media by ending his two-year hiatus from Twitter to take his message to the masses. Mike Bianchi, Pro Soccer USA, "After record win, Orlando City fans need to start appreciating Jason Kreis," 6 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



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hiba arborvitae

Phrases Related to hiatus

go on hiatus

put on hiatus

Statistics for hiatus

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

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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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the setting in which something occurs

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