noun, plural hi·a·tus·es, hi·a·tus.

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.

Origin of hiatus

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

Synonyms for hiatus

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hiatus

Contemporary Examples of hiatus

Historical Examples of hiatus

  • Of course the reason for the hiatus in the books was plain enough.

    The Portygee

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • No copies were retained, so there is a hiatus in the record.

  • And yet his experience told him 205 that there must be some rift, some hiatus in the scheme.

    The Crevice

    William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander

  • The Composer, however, observed the hiatus, and directed the insertion of two rests.

    The Shadow World

    Hamlin Garland

  • Then he covered the hiatus with paint, and hoisted the ensign to the flagstaff.

    The Wreck of the Titan

    Morgan Robertson

British Dictionary definitions for hiatus


noun plural -tuses or -tus

(esp in manuscripts) a break or gap where something is missing
a break or interruption in continuity
a break between adjacent vowels in the pronunciation of a word
anatomy a natural opening or aperture; foramen
anatomy a less common word for vulva
Derived Formshiatal, adjective

Word Origin for hiatus

C16: from Latin: gap, cleft, aperture, from hiāre to gape, yawn
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

Word Origin and History for hiatus

1560s, "break or opening in a material object," from Latin hiatus "opening, aperture, rupture, gap," from past participle stem of hiare "to gape, stand open" (see yawn (v.)). Sense of "gap or interruption in events, etc." is first recorded 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

hiatus in Medicine



n. pl. hiatus

An aperture or fissure in an organ or a body part.
A foramen.
Related formshi•atal adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.