in·​ter·​stice | \ in-ˈtər-stəs How to pronounce interstice (audio) \
plural interstices\ in-​ˈtər-​stə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce interstice (audio) , -​stə-​səz \

Definition of interstice

1a : a space that intervenes between things especially : one between closely spaced things interstices of a wall
b : a gap or break in something generally continuous the interstices of society passages of genuine literary merit in the interstices of the ludicrous … plots— Joyce Carol Oates
2 : a short space of time between events

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Did You Know?

You don't need to read between the lines to understand the history of interstice; its etymology is plain to see. Interstice derives from the Latin interstitium, which is itself formed from the prefix inter-, meaning "between," and -stes, meaning "standing." Interstices are the cracks and crevices of life, and the word is often used for both the literal and figurative gaps of the world. In modern uses, interstice can even refer to gaps in time or to special niches in the larger expanse of something else. Evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould used it, for example, to comment, "Dinosaurs held sway for 100 million years while mammals, all the while, lived as small animals in the interstices of their world."

Examples of interstice in a Sentence

there's an occasional interstice in the tedium, but most of the novel is boring pesky weeds growing in the interstices between the flagstones
Recent Examples on the Web With a gray interstice, Bradley then cuts to the present day, with the Richardson family getting dressed to visit Rob at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Samantha N. Sheppard, The Atlantic, "A Gripping Film About Incarceration’s Impact on Families," 17 Oct. 2020 In the jargon of literary criticism, these in-between states are called interstitial – an interstice is a small space between something else, like the cracks in a sidewalk. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, "We’re in a ‘liminal’ moment, rather than ‘in limbo’," 11 June 2020 In the structure of the tire, the pure cheese is acting as the interstice, bonding the sturdy and static aggregate materials together while still giving them flexibility and shock absorption. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Let's Find Out If You Can Drive a Car on Cheese Wheels," 2 Apr. 2020 Instead of drama and imagination, the movie depends on a relentless blare of music, by John Williams, which takes the place of any emotional complexity that might dare to sneak through the interstices. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "The Robotic Familiarity of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”," 19 Dec. 2019 David Robertson, in the pit, lavished attention on the interstices of Gershwin’s score—the leitmotivic web that holds the big numbers together. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Star-Crossed Pairings in “Porgy and Bess” and “Denis & Katya”," 7 Oct. 2019 Its molten rage has dripped through the interstices of our daily lives. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "Hope for the Present in a Reminder of Greatness," 5 Oct. 2018 The interstice between Jack’s insides and his skin — that chasm of echoing hollow, the miserable Gas that kept him from himself, and from the world, had been closed.’’ Voth’s situation is much less dramatic. Clea Simon,, "In Jordy Rosenberg’s new novel, it’s a trans, trans, trans, trans world," 22 June 2018 In the 21st century, interstices could do something similar. Daniel H. Pink, The Atlantic, "The Future of Television Is Being Able to Pick Shows by Length," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'interstice.' 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 interstice

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for interstice

Middle English, from Latin interstitium, from inter- + -stit-, -stes standing (as in superstes standing over) — more at superstition

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The first known use of interstice was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Interstice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for interstice



English Language Learners Definition of interstice

formal : a small space that lies between things : a small break or gap in something


in·​ter·​stice | \ in-ˈtər-stəs How to pronounce interstice (audio) \
plural interstices\ -​stə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce interstice (audio) , -​stə-​səz How to pronounce interstice (audio) \

Medical Definition of interstice

: a space between closely spaced things (as teeth)

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