hi·​a·​tus | \ hī-ˈā-təs How to pronounce hiatus (audio) \

Definition of hiatus

1a : a break in or as if in a material object : gap the weedy hiatus between the town and the railroad— Willa Cather the hiatus between the theory and the practice of the party— J. G. Colton
b biology : a gap or passage in an anatomical part or organ
2a : 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
b : the occurrence of two vowel sounds without pause or intervening consonantal sound

Did you know?

Hiatus comes from hiare, a Latin verb meaning "to gape" or "to yawn," and first appeared in English in the middle of the 16th century. Originally, the word referred to a gap or opening in something, such as a cave opening in a cliff. In the 18th century, British novelist Laurence Sterne used the word humorously in his novel Tristram Shandy, writing of "the hiatus in Phutatorius's breeches." These days, hiatus is usually used in a temporal sense to refer to a pause or interruption (as in a song), or a period during which an activity is temporarily suspended (such as a hiatus from teaching).

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 The annual festival is set to return Saturday after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hannah Kirby, Journal Sentinel, 4 Aug. 2022 After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, members of the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council moved into high gear to organize an event honoring the five decades the festival has been celebrated. Linda Girardi, Chicago Tribune, 31 July 2022 Sanja festival was held in May, after a two-year hiatus due to coronavirus concerns, the sight of children hoisting mikoshi parade floats attracted widespread media attention. Hiroko Yoda, The New Yorker, 26 July 2022 After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACE Academy in Atlanta relaunched this month just as the risks of a pilot shortage have become painfully apparent. Kelly Yamanouchi, ajc, 16 July 2022 Eight people were gored in 2019, the last festival before a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. BostonGlobe.com, 9 July 2022 The gala will take place Oct. 27, 2022, at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles — the first after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Jem Aswad, Variety, 21 June 2022 After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Logie Awards are back, baby! Alexandra Koster, refinery29.com, 19 June 2022 After a two-year Covid-19 hiatus, the formal advertising upfronts returned this week to a variety of New York stages. Howard Homonoff, Forbes, 19 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of hiatus

1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hiatus

Latin, from hiare to yawn — more at yawn

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Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hiatus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hiatus. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for hiatus


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

Medical Definition of hiatus

: 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)

More from Merriam-Webster on hiatus

Nglish: Translation of hiatus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hiatus for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hiatus


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