hi·​a·​tus hī-ˈā-təs How to pronounce hiatus (audio)
: a break in or as if in a material object : gap
the weedy hiatus between the town and the railroadWilla Cather
the hiatus between the theory and the practice of the partyJ. G. Colton
biology : a gap or passage in an anatomical part or organ
: 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
: the occurrence of two vowel sounds without pause or intervening consonantal sound

Did you know?

This brief hiatus in your day is brought to you by, well, hiatus. While the word now most often refers to a temporary pause, hiatus originally referred to a physical opening in something, such as the mouth of a cave, or, as the 18th century British novelist Laurence Sterne would have it, a sartorial gap: in the wildly experimental novel Tristram Shandy, Sterne wrote of “the hiatus in Phutatorius’s breeches.” Hiatus comes from the Latin verb hiare, meaning “to open wide,” which makes it a distant relation of both yawn and chasm. And that’s all we have for now—you may resume your regular activities.

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 Word of the decision emerged as diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the nine-month war in Gaza appeared to be stirring back to life after a weekslong hiatus. Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports, arkansasonline.com, 5 July 2024 The accompanying festival has returned after a brief hiatus in 2023. Ray Chavez, The Mercury News, 4 July 2024 Last year, Lee was diagnosed with an incurable kidney disease that forced her to take a training hiatus. Byalexa Mikhail, Fortune Well, 1 July 2024 The group then went on hiatus before reforming in 2007. Max Goldbart, Deadline, 25 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for hiatus 

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

Word History


Latin, from hiare to yawn — more at yawn

First Known Use

1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of hiatus was in 1563


Dictionary Entries Near hiatus

Cite this Entry

“Hiatus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hiatus. Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


hi·​a·​tus hī-ˈāt-əs How to pronounce hiatus (audio)
plural hiatuses
: a gap in space or time
especially : a break where a part is missing

Medical Definition


hi·​a·​tus hī-ˈāt-əs How to pronounce hiatus (audio)
: 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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