hi·​a·​tus | \ hī-ˈā-təs How to pronounce hiatus (audio) \

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

The actor, who’s making his big screen comeback after a near five year hiatus, turned 55 on Friday. Mike Miller, PEOPLE.com, "Mike Myers Is Enjoying the 'Happiest Time' of His Life at 55 and Wants to Do Austin Powers 4," 25 May 2018 After a one-year hiatus, Mr. Howard returned as the Enquirer’s editor in chief before taking on oversight of all the company’s gossip titles in his current role. Lukas I. Alpert, WSJ, "From Bezos to Dr. Phil, the Enquirer Turns to Bare Knuckle Tactics," 15 Feb. 2019 Following a five-year hiatus, the Pistol Annies finally released a new record—and their searing lyrics and soaring harmonies were worth the wait. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Who Are the Pistol Annies? Everything You Need to Know About Miranda Lambert's Band," 13 Nov. 2018 The standoff over the Italian budget has revived concerns about the future of the eurozone after a three-year hiatus and in the wake of Greece’s exit from its bailout programs. Pan Pylas, The Seattle Times, "Eurozone economy slows to its weakest level in 4 years," 30 Oct. 2018 Former Orlando Predators quarterback and local high school football coach Collin Drafts is relaunching the Orlando QB Shootout after a two-year hiatus. J.c. Carnahan, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Orlando QB Shootout returns to West Orange July 7 after lengthy layoff," 27 June 2018 The judges are returning for a second season of the show, that ABC rebooted last fall after a two-year hiatus. Claire Wolters, Philly.com, "'American Idol' auditions set for Sept. 6 in Philly," 7 June 2018 After a seven-year hiatus, the founder and CEO of the 2nd Time Around chain of consignment stores is back at 176 Newbury St., occupying the same location that served as the company’s flagship for over two decades. Janelle Nanos, BostonGlobe.com, "The founder of 2nd Time Around tries a 3rd act on Newbury Street," 14 May 2018 Baltimore ended a three-year hiatus from the playoffs, winning the AFC North before losing to the Chargers. David Ginsburg, The Seattle Times, "Roman overhauls Ravens offense with QB Lamar Jackson in mind," 19 Feb. 2019

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

Statistics for hiatus

Last Updated

10 Apr 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 How to pronounce hiatus (audio) \

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).


an act or instance of returning to life

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