The Meaning of Hiatus: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of hiatus? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word hiatus, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the word hiatus mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word hiatus is a noun that refers to a slight pause or gap in which nothing happens or something is missing, like a missing part. This can be used in manuscripts or prosody, to refer to the continuity of a work, anatomy, and many other different fields. In anatomy, it refers to the natural opening, aperture, natural fissure or foramen, in a body part sometimes of the vulva, or a perforation through a bone or a membranous structure, such as an opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus and vagus nerves pass. It is also used in linguistics, phonology and grammar to refer to a break or interruption in continuity between adjacent vowels in the pronunciation of a word, consecutive syllables, or in successive words. This intervening consonant can be compared to a dipthong. This word can also be used in medicine to refer to the abatement of a fever. The common word hiatus is three syllables – hi-a-tus, and the pronunciation of hiatus is haɪˈeɪtəs. One can change tus to tuses to make the plural hiatuses.

Many different languages also contain words that mean hiatus. You may notice that some of these translations of hiatus look and sound similar to the word hiatus. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases that look, sound, and eman something slimalir while they are words of different languages. These are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of the word hiatus is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Italian: pausa‎ (fem.), iato‎ (masc.), interruzione‎ (fem.), periodo sabbatico‎ (masc.)
  •  Swedish: uppehåll‎ (neut.), avbrott‎ (neut.)
  •  Russian: переры́в‎ (masc.)
  •  Japanese: 中断‎ (ちゅうだん, chūdan)
  •  Spanish: pausa‎ (fem.)
  •  Dutch: hiaat‎ (neut.), gat‎ (neut.), onderbreking‎, interruptie‎, pauze‎
  •  Finnish: tauko‎, keskeytys‎
  •  Greek: παύση‎ (fem.) (páfsi)
  •  Polish: przerwa‎ (masc.)

What are synonyms and antonyms of hiatus?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word hiatus. These words with the same definition as the word hiatus are called synonyms. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your vocabulary, as well as to avoid repeating yourself in spoken and written English. This list of synonyms of hiatus is from Power Thesaurus

  •  slacks
  •  abatement
  •  void
  •  cutoff
  •  close
  •  recess
  •  rest
  •  shortage
  •  respites
  •  layover
  •  discontinuation
  •  disruption
  •  apnea
  •  opening
  •  foramen
  •  wait
  •  recessing
  •  deficiency
  •  slack
  •  relief
  •  termination
  •  blank place
  •  discontinuity
  •  hesitation
  •  rift
  •  pause
  •  time out
  •  postponement
  •  blank area
  •  check
  •  discontinuance
  •  interstice
  •  stoppage
  •  meantime
  •  time-out
  •  intermission
  •  delay
  •  interim
  •  split
  •  blank gap
  •  empty space
  •  small opening
  •  remittance 
  •  remission 
  •  gap
  •  cavity
  •  need
  •  reprieve
  •  breaks
  •  chasm
  •  interregnum
  •  breach
  •  chink
  •  rent
  •  hole
  •  hold-up
  •  abeyance
  •  gaps
  •  awkward moment
  •  stop
  •  lull
  •  pausing
  •  breathing space
  •  blank
  •  pauses
  •  breather
  •  interspace
  •  cleft
  •  blank space
  •  interval
  •  respite
  •  let-up
  •  halt
  •  spell
  •  layoff
  •  moratorium
  •  break
  •  lacuna
  •  adjournment
  •  caesura
  •  gulf
  •  cessation
  •  crevice
  •  omission
  •  lack
  •  parenthesis
  •  interruption
  •  separation
  •  lulls
  •  stay
  •  lunch break
  •  letup
  •  vacancy
  •  deficit
  •  paused
  •  pause in the action
  •  fissure
  •  interlude
  •  comma
  •  aperture
  •  crack
  •  space
  •  suspension
  •  lapse

There are also numerous different words with the opposite meaning as hiatus. These are called antonyms, which are another great way to expand your English language vocabulary. These antonyms for hiatus are also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  keeping
  •  sustainment
  •  longevity
  •  progression
  •  preservation
  •  postscript
  •  lengthening
  •  survival
  •  continuing
  •  complement
  •  continue
  •  continuation
  •  persistence
  •  protracting
  •  supplement
  •  extending
  •  renewal
  •  appendix
  •  existence
  •  perpetuating
  •   postponement
  •  widening
  •  sequels
  •  keep
  •  retainment
  •  lifing
  •  retaining
  •  continuities
  •  big game
  •  resurrection
  •  flow
  •  extent
  •  accompaniment
  •  continued existence
  •  augment
  •  sustenance
  •  added feature
  •  development
  •  prorogation
  •  subsistence
  •  run
  •  line
  •  reopening
  •  sustaining
  •  adjunct
  •  expansion
  •  annex
  •  perseverance
  •  existences
  •  part two
  •  accessory
  •  sequence
  •  carrying on
  •  broadening
  •  appurtenance
  •  support
  •  resurgence
  •  continuousness
  •  annexe
  •  additive
  •  good continuation
  •  increment
  •  extend
  •  enlargement
  •  follow-up
  •  abidance
  •  appendage
  •  augmentation
  •  rejuvenation
  •  preserving
  •  prolongation
  •  duration
  •  continuous
  •  elongation
  •  durability
  •  prolonging
  •  persistency
  •  resumption
  •  maintenance
  •  permanence
  •  conservation
  •  lengthiness
  •  continuity
  •  sequel
  •  perpetuation
  •  increase
  •  succession
  •  codicil
  •  recommencement
  •  retention
  •  epilogue
  •  addendum
  •  further
  •  addition
  •  extension
  •  protraction
  •  extended
  •  continuance
  •  continuum
  •  endurance
  •  maintaining

What is the origin of the word hiatus?

According to Etymonline, the word hiatus has been used since c16 to refer to a break or opening. This comes from the Latin hiatus/Latin hiātus opening and the past participle of hiāre/hiare, which is a Latin verb meaning “to gape” or “to yawn.” This comes from the Proto-Indo-European root ghieh as well as ​hiā/hiō.

How can the word hiatus be used in a sentence?

The word hiatus can be used in many different ways in natural sounding English. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. You can also try making flashcards or a quiz to test your knowledge of different words’ definitions. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are several examples of the word hiatus being used in a sentence to help get your started. 

The hiatus in the short passage felt like a missing piece that swelled with intensity while waiting for the next. The editor looked it over and was surprised how much the passage could resonate. 

The show went on a two-week hiatus for the holidays. This gave the cast and crew plenty of time with family and to rest up before the show came back to filming. 

The doctor at Princeton University examined the hiatus aorticus through which the aorta and thoracic duct pass.

Overall, the word hiatus means a small break or opening. This word is Latin in origin.


  1. hiatus: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. Hiatus synonyms – 488 Words and Phrases for Hiatus | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Hiatus Antonyms | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Hiatus definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  5. hiatus | Origin and meaning of hiatus | Online Etymology Dictionary