noun, plural hiatuses, hiatus.
a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.
a missing part; gap or lacuna: Scholars attempted to account for the hiatus in the medieval manuscript.
any gap or opening.
Grammar, Prosody. the coming together, with or without break or slight pause, and without contraction, of two vowels in successive words or syllables, as in see easily.
Anatomy. a natural fissure, cleft, or foramen in a bone or other structure.

1555–65; < Latin hiātus opening, gap, equivalent to hiā(re) to gape, open + -tus suffix of v. action

hiatal, adjective

3. break, interval, space.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To hiatus
World English Dictionary
hiatus (haɪˈeɪtəs)
n , pl -tuses, -tus
1.  (esp in manuscripts) a break or gap where something is missing
2.  a break or interruption in continuity
3.  a break between adjacent vowels in the pronunciation of a word
4.  anatomy a natural opening or aperture; foramen
5.  anatomy a less common word for vulva
[C16: from Latin: gap, cleft, aperture, from hiāre to gape, yawn]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

1563, "break or opening in a material object," from L. hiatus "opening, rupture, gap," from hiare "to gape, stand open." Sense of "gap or interruption in events, etc." is first recorded 1613.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

hiatus hi·a·tus (hī-ā'təs)
n. pl. hiatus or hi·a·tus·es

  1. An aperture or fissure in an organ or a body part.

  2. A foramen.

hi·a'tal adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


in prosody, a break in sound between two vowels that occur together without an intervening consonant, both vowels being clearly enunciated. The two vowels may be either within one word, as in the words Vienna and naive, or the final and initial vowels of two successive words, as in the phrases "see it" and "go in." Hiatus is the opposite of elision, the dropping or blurring of the second vowel; it is also distinct from diphthongization, in which the vowels blend to form one sound

Learn more about hiatus with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Worried by the playwright's increasingly unstable state, he also advised a
  total hiatus from work.
Unfortunately, the show was on hiatus, and not scheduled to start up again
  until February.
The board may come to regret the management hiatus it has caused.
There was a 23-year hiatus before he put in another appearance.
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature