[ in-ter-vuhl ]
See synonyms for: intervalintervals on

  1. an intervening period of time: an interval of 50 years.

  2. a period of temporary cessation; pause: intervals between the volleys of gunfire.

  1. a space between things, points, limits, etc.; interspace: an interval of ten feet between posts.

  2. Mathematics.

    • the totality of points on a line between two designated points or endpoints that may or may not be included.

    • any generalization of this to higher dimensions, as a rectangle with sides parallel to the coordinate axes.

  3. the space between soldiers or units in military formation.

  4. Music. the difference in pitch between two tones, as between two tones sounded simultaneously (harmonic interval ) or between two tones sounded successively (melodic interval ).

  5. Chiefly New England. intervale.

  6. Cards. a period in a game for placing bets.

  7. British. an intermission, as between the acts of a play.

Idioms about interval

  1. at intervals,

    • at particular periods of time; now and then: At intervals, there were formal receptions at the governor's mansion.

    • at particular places, with gaps in between: detour signs at intervals along the highway.

Origin of interval

1250–1300; Middle English intervall(e) <Latin intervallum interval, literally, space between two palisades. See inter-, wall

Other words for interval

Other words from interval

  • in·ter·val·ic, in·ter·val·lic [in-ter-val-ik], /ˌɪn tərˈvæl ɪk/, adjective

Words that may be confused with interval

Words Nearby interval Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use interval in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for interval


/ (ˈɪntəvəl) /

  1. the period of time marked off by or between two events, instants, etc

  2. the distance between two points, objects, etc

  1. a pause or interlude, as between periods of intense activity

  2. British a short period between parts of a play, concert, film, etc; intermission

  3. 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

  4. the ratio of the frequencies of two sounds

  5. 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

  6. at intervals

    • occasionally or intermittently

    • with spaces between

Origin of interval

C13: from Latin intervallum, literally: space between two palisades, from inter- + vallum palisade, rampart

Derived forms of interval

  • intervallic (ˌɪntəˈvælɪk), adjective

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