in·​ter·​reg·​num | \ ˌin-tə-ˈreg-nəm How to pronounce interregnum (audio) \
plural interregnums or interregna\ ˌin-​tə-​ˈreg-​nə How to pronounce interregnum (audio) \

Definition of interregnum

1 : the time during which a throne is vacant between two successive reigns or regimes
2 : a period during which the normal functions of government or control are suspended
3 : a lapse or pause in a continuous series

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Every time a pope dies, there's an interregnum period before a new one is elected by the cardinals. In most democratic systems, however, the law specifies who should take office when a president or prime minister dies unexpectedly, and since the power usually passes automatically, there's no true interregnum. The question of succession—that is, of who should take over when a country's leader dies—has often presented huge problems for countries that lacked a constitution, and in monarchies it hasn't always been clear who should become king or queen when a monarch dies. The interregnum following the death of Edward VI in 1553, for instance, was briefly suspended when Lady Jane Grey was installed as Queen; nine days later she was replaced by Mary Tudor, who sent her straight to the Tower of London.

Examples of interregnum in a Sentence

the democratic regime proved to be a short-lived interregnum between dictatorships
Recent Examples on the Web He was nominated mostly because Democrats saw him as their best bet against President Trump, so Biden’s victory marked an interregnum rather than a turning point in the history of the Democratic Party. Los Angeles Times, 2 Mar. 2022 So in the interregnum between his two programs, Colbert sought out Batiste to be his stage partner at CBS. David Kamp, WSJ, 1 Mar. 2022 The two-week interregnum between the conference championships and the Super Bowl brought the rest of the drama. Ian Crouch, The New Yorker, 14 Feb. 2022 As the Dolphins continue their slow journey to the scrapyard, the challenge for the Coast Guard is to keep the interregnum as tolerable as possible for the MH-65 community. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 28 Jan. 2022 Like an interregnum, zwischenzeitig implies a phase between more stable periods. Nate Dicamillo, Quartz, 6 Dec. 2021 Adele's endlessly lip-syncable music might be made for the more theatrical moments posted to TikTok, which caught fire and became a fresh vehicle for pop stardom in the interregnum between 25 and 30. Maura Johnston,, 19 Nov. 2021 There are two types of people that can thrive in this dark holiday interregnum: Nightmare Before Christmas goths and Mariah Carey stans. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 1 Nov. 2021 In the interregnum between Ito’s directorship and Newman’s, MIT released a detailed 61-page report on the $850,000 in total donations Epstein made to the university and the decisionmaking process that led to accepting it., 28 Oct. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of interregnum

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for interregnum

Latin, from inter- + regnum reign — more at reign

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The first known use of interregnum was in 1590

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Cite this Entry

“Interregnum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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