[in-ter-mish-uh n]
See more synonyms for intermission on
  1. a short interval between the acts of a play or parts of a public performance, usually a period of approximately 10 or 15 minutes, allowing the performers and audience a rest.
  2. a period during which action temporarily ceases; an interval between periods of action or activity: They studied for hours without an intermission.
  3. the act or fact of intermitting; state of being intermitted: to work without intermission.

Origin of intermission

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin intermissiōn- (stem of intermissiō) interruption, equivalent to intermiss(us) (past participle of intermittere to intermit) + -iōn- -ion Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for intermission

Contemporary Examples of intermission

Historical Examples of intermission

  • This was at the intermission after the first act of "The Beggars" opera.

    How the Piano Came to Be

    Ellye Howell Glover

  • The three Sans had spent their intermission talking to Leslie.

  • At the noon intermission, therefore, my boat was available for use, and I always had a party.

    Breaking Away

    Oliver Optic

  • If the interludes are retained there need not be any intermission in the whole drama.

    The Buddha

    Paul Carus

  • Sam occupied the intermission by staring furtively at her profile.

    The Girl on the Boat

    Pelham Grenville Wodehouse

British Dictionary definitions for intermission


  1. an interval, as between parts of a film
  2. a period between events or activities; pause
  3. the act of intermitting or the state of being intermitted
Derived Formsintermissive, adjective

Word Origin for intermission

C16: from Latin intermissiō, from intermittere to leave off, intermit
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 intermission

early 15c., from Latin intermissionem (nominative intermissio) "interruption," noun of action from past participle stem of intermittere "to leave off," from inter- "between" (see inter-) + mittere "let go, send" (see mission).

Intermission is used in U.S. for what we call an interval (in a musical or dramatic performance). Under the influence of LOVE OF THE LONG WORD, it is beginning to infiltrate here and should be repelled; our own word does very well. [H.W. Fowler, "Modern English Usage," 1926]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper