in·​ter·​stice in-ˈtər-stəs How to pronounce interstice (audio)
: a space that intervenes between things
especially : one between closely spaced things
interstices of a wall
: a gap or break in something generally continuous
the interstices of society
passages of genuine literary merit in the interstices of the ludicrous … plotsJoyce Carol Oates
: a short space of time between events

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 Trauma lingers in the interstices of the everyday, only sometimes announcing itself. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 21 Mar. 2022 Like it or not, many people fill in every interstice of their day by whipping out their phone and flicking through feeds. Mark Van Wye, Forbes, 15 June 2021 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 7 Oct. 2019 Its molten rage has dripped through the interstices of our daily lives. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 5 Oct. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'interstice.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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


Dictionary Entries Near interstice

Cite this Entry

“Interstice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​ter·​stice in-ˈtər-stəs How to pronounce interstice (audio)
plural interstices -stə-ˌsēz How to pronounce interstice (audio)
: a little space between two things

Medical Definition


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)
: a space between closely spaced things (as teeth)

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