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[in-ter-vuh l] /ˈɪn tər vəl/
an intervening period of time:
an interval of 50 years.
a period of temporary cessation; pause:
intervals between the volleys of gunfire.
a space between things, points, limits, etc.; interspace:
an interval of ten feet between posts.
  1. the totality of points on a line between two designated points or endpoints that may or may not be included.
  2. any generalization of this to higher dimensions, as a rectangle with sides parallel to the coordinate axes.
the space between soldiers or units in military formation.
Music. the difference in pitch between two tones, as between two tones sounded simultaneously (harmonic interval) or between two tones sounded successively (melodic interval)
Chiefly New England, intervale.
Cards. a period in a game for placing bets.
British. an intermission, as between the acts of a play.
at intervals,
  1. at particular periods of time; now and then:
    At intervals, there were formal receptions at the governor's mansion.
  2. at particular places, with gaps in between:
    detour signs at intervals along the highway.
1250-1300; Middle English intervall(e) < Latin intervallum interval, literally, space between two palisades. See inter-, wall
Related forms
intervalic, intervallic
[in-ter-val-ik] /ˌɪn tərˈvæl ɪk/ (Show IPA),
Can be confused
interval, period.
3. opening, gap, separation, gulf. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for intervals
  • In earlier work, researchers found a similar dynamic at work in people's judgment of intervals that last only moments.
  • Consciously reminding yourself to blink at intervals during the day will help relieve dry eyes.
  • Most farmers still make the call based on instinct or err on the side of caution and switch the sprinklers on at fixed intervals.
  • The cell phone is set to transmit readings at regular intervals.
  • Each of the three fast-moving storms shown above was photographed at two-minute intervals by the space probe.
  • The device also can be programmed to release drugs at various intervals.
  • Some flower every year, some at irregular intervals.
  • Note that here the n's come at intervals of five units.
  • Until recently, much of modern earthquake theory was based on the idea that intervals between these events were nicely regular.
  • All you have to do is strap it to your face and let it do its thing, which is flashing lights at pre-set intervals while you rest.
British Dictionary definitions for intervals


the period of time marked off by or between two events, instants, etc
the distance between two points, objects, etc
a pause or interlude, as between periods of intense activity
(Brit) a short period between parts of a play, concert, film, etc; intermission
(music) the difference of pitch between two notes, either sounded simultaneously (harmonic interval) or in succession as in a musical part (melodic interval). An interval is calculated by counting the (inclusive) number of notes of the diatonic scale between the two notes: the interval between C and G is a fifth
the ratio of the frequencies of two sounds
(maths) the set containing all real numbers or points between two given numbers or points, called the endpoints. A closed interval includes the endpoints, but an open interval does not
at intervals
  1. occasionally or intermittently
  2. with spaces between
Derived Forms
intervallic (ˌɪntəˈvælɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Latin intervallum, literally: space between two palisades, from inter- + vallum palisade, rampart
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for intervals



early 14c., from Old French intervalle (14c.), earlier entreval (13c.), from Late Latin intervallum "space, interval, distance," originally "space between palisades or ramparts," from inter "between" (see inter-) + vallum "rampart" (see wall). Metaphoric sense of "gap in time" was present in Latin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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intervals in Medicine

interval in·ter·val (ĭn'tər-vəl)

  1. A space between two objects, points, or units.

  2. The amount of time between two specified instants, events, or states.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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