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

Their New York schedules clicked in October 2017 while Mr. Shah was home promoting an album and Ms. Callahan wasn’t returning to work until that Monday, after being on a four-month hiatus. Alix Strauss, New York Times, "For a ‘Saturday Night Live’ Writer, a Permanent Musical Guest," 28 June 2019 Now, after an eight-month hiatus, Idol fans can finally look forward to their favorite show coming back to the weekly lineup of singing competitions on TV. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "When Does 'American Idol' Come Back for Its Next Season on ABC?," 20 Jan. 2019 Since taking a two month hiatus, Selena has been spotted all around Los Angeles wearing various affordable looks, including a head-to-toe Puma outfit from her SG X Puma collection. Alyssa Hardy, Teen Vogue, "Selena Gomez Is Actually Glowing in This Affordable Slip," 9 Jan. 2019 After a six month hiatus, Will and Grace returns to NBC as part of the network's fall programming Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET. Eileen Reslen, Good Housekeeping, "How and When to Watch and Stream the New Season of 'Will & Grace'," 4 Oct. 2018 Later that year Jen took a six-month hiatus from social media. Lauren Smiley, Glamour, "Two White Moms. Six Black Kids. One Unthinkable Tragedy. A Look Inside the ‘Perfect’ Hart Family," 6 Sep. 2018 Trade is key for the bilateral relationship as the U.S., Mexico and Canada prepare to resume talks to redraw Nafta after a two-month hiatus. Juan Montes, WSJ, "In Letter to Trump, Mexico’s President-Elect Seeks ‘Common Path’," 22 July 2018 In her first race after a three-month hiatus due to a tibial stress reaction, Natick junior Grace Connolly made quite a splash in her return to the track for the MSTCA Girls’ Invitational in Sharon. Mike Kotsopoulos And Jake Levin, BostonGlobe.com, "Natick junior Grace Connolly shines in return to track," 13 May 2018 Reportedly Renew Merger Talks According to the Wall Street Journal, the two telecommunication giants have restarted talks after a five month hiatus. David Mclaughlin And Sara Forden, Houston Chronicle, "Sprint plunges on concerns feds won't approve T-Mobile merger," 30 Apr. 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

Statistics for hiatus

Last Updated

11 Sep 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).


concealment of treason or felony

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