interstice

noun
in·ter·stice | \in-ˈtər-stəs \
plural interstices\in-ˈtər-stə-ˌsēz, -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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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, BostonGlobe.com, "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 Girls in pinafores and straw hats are preparing for an outing to Hanging Rock, where giant obelisks of red stone jut out of the earth and create a labyrinth of craggy interstices—a geological marvel and a sacred site for Aboriginal Australians. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "Picnic at Hanging Rock," 22 May 2018 The artist explores interstices between mediums, where viewers don’t know what to grab — the story’s pull, or the paint’s. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "Not illustrating, but dancing with," 4 Apr. 2018 That’s what Schuleit Haber offers from the interstices: the opportunity to wonder, rather than to know. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "Not illustrating, but dancing with," 4 Apr. 2018 David Sedaris, on the other hand, revels in those moments, finding meaning and humor in life’s interstices. David Takami, The Seattle Times, "Steal a look: Diary entries offer glimpse into David Sedaris’ humor," 11 June 2017 Her shapes intersect at awkward angles but often stop short of touching, exposing slivers and interstices of bare canvas that create a jangly autonomy of parts. Roberta Smith And Martha Schwendener, New York Times, "What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week," 1 June 2017 The film makes another argument: that hatred can fester even in the interstices of liberal democracies. Daniel Wenger, The New Yorker, "The Tragic Lessons of Cinema’s First Gay Love Story," 14 Feb. 2017

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about interstice

Share interstice

Listen to Our Podcast about interstice

Statistics for interstice

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for interstice

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for interstice

interstice

noun

English Language Learners Definition of interstice

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

interstice

noun
in·ter·stice | \in-ˈtər-stəs \
plural interstices\-stə-ˌsēz, -stə-səz \

Medical Definition of interstice 

: a space between closely spaced things (as teeth)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on interstice

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for interstice

Spanish Central: Translation of interstice

Nglish: Translation of interstice for Spanish Speakers

Comments on interstice

What made you want to look up interstice? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

evasion of direct action or statement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!