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

Have you ever been confused by the definition of interim? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word interim, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word interim mean?

According to Cambridge Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary, the word interim (pronounced ˈɪntərɪm) can either be used as an adjective or a noun. As a noun, the word interim is used to describe some period of intervening time. This is often used to refer to a break from a specified period of time or a pause in some course. For example, if you were given a break during the middle of a long lecture, the lecturer may instruct you to get water, food, or use the bathroom in the interim. As an adjective, the word interim is used to describe something that is temporary or existing for a short period of time until something more permanent can be implemented, like an interim government, interim agreement, or interim measures. For example, if there is construction on the street you live on, you may have to walk on an interim sidewalk that is just a taped off bit of the street until the construction is complete. If a high-level executive is out on a sabbatical, you might have an interim CEO, interim president, or interim manager until the person returns.

The word interim is also used in many different languages. You may notice that some of these translations have a very similar sound, or are almost cognates for the word interim. This is because the words have a similar root or origin and therefore come from the same place. Many different languages have similar roots, such as the romance languages having Latin roots. This list of translations for the word interim is provided by Word Sense.

  • Russian: переходный‎ (masc.)
  • French: intervalle‎ (masc.), intérim‎ (masc.)
  • Polish: w międyczasie‎ (masc.), tymczasem‎
  • German: Übergangszeit‎ (fem.), Zwischenzeit‎ (fem.), Interim‎ (neut.)
  • Serbo-Croatian: prelazan‎, prijelazan‎, preliminaran‎
  • Spanish: ínterin‎ (masc.)
  • Italian: intervallo‎ (masc.)
  • Czech: přechodný‎
  • Portuguese: intervalo‎
  • Catalan: interí‎
  • Polish: przejściowy‎
  • Georgian: გარდამავალი‎, შუალედური‎, ტრანზიციული‎
  • German: übergangsweise‎, Übergangs-‎
  • Dutch: tussentijds‎

What is the origin of the word interim?

According to Etymonline, the word interim has been sued since the 1560s to mean time intervening. This noun comes from the Latin interim, which was an adverb that meant in the meantime or meanwhile. This word originally meant in the midst of, which comes from the root inter meaning between. Inter comes from the Proto-Indo-European root enter meaning between or among. It is coupled with the suffix im which is an adverb forming element from the stem of the pronouns this and that. The word interim has been used as an adjective since the year 1600.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word interim?

There are many different words that mean the same things as the word interim. These are called synonyms, which are words or phrases that have the same meaning or definition as other words. Synonyms are useful to know if you want to avoid repeating yourself or if you are looking to expand your vocabulary. THis list of synonyms for the word interim is provided by Thesaurus.

  • meanwhile
  • interlude
  • interregnum
  • pro tem
  • caretaker
  • meantime
  • pause
  • downtime
  • acting
  • gap
  • coffee break
  • thrown-together
  • breathing spell
  • interval
  • ad interim
  • lacuna
  • temporary
  • time-out
  • stopgap
  • improvised
  • breach
  • time
  • layoff
  • provisional
  • interruption
  • letup
  • take ten
  • breather
  • break
  • hiatus
  • pro tempore
  • cutoff
  • intervening
  • makeshift

There are also many different words that have the opposite meaning of the word interim. These words are considered antonyms for the word interim. Antonyms are also useful to know if you are looking to expand your knowledge of English grammar. This list of antonyms for the word interim is also provided by Thesaurus

  • postscript
  • enduring
  • going on
  • maintaining
  • duration
  • preservation
  • prolonging
  • increase
  • succession
  • extension
  • increasing
  • prolongation
  • preserving
  • producing
  • endurance
  • maintenance
  • persisting
  • supplement
  • production
  • perpetuating
  • furtherance
  • sequel
  • sustaining
  • augmenting
  • sustenance
  • line
  • assiduity
  • tenacity
  • protraction
  • continuation
  • continuing
  • addition
  • propagation
  • continuity
  • continuance
  • perpetuation
  • protracting 

How can the word interim be used in a sentence?

The word interim can be used in a sentence in multiple different ways as either a noun or as an adjective. In this example, the word interim will be used as a noun. It is the last day of school before winter break and Mr. Green is addressing his class. 

Mr. Green: Class, you have worked very hard this semester and I hope that you have an amazing break. You should be taking this interim to rest and come back fresh and new after the new year. I will be sending out some optional work you might choose to do if you get bored or want to get ahead for the coming semester, but please note that this is not mandatory.

In this next example, the word interim will be used as an adjective. Ms. Green is addressing her colleagues.

Ms. Green: Hi Team. As you know, the building manager found termites. We are issuing an interim order for everyone to work from home starting immediately to give the building time to be fumigated. If you need any assistance in transitioning your technology to a remote work environment, please let us know as soon as possible.

Overall, the word interim can be used as either an adjective or a noun. As an adjective, the word interim is used to describe something that is temporary or impermanent. As a noun, it is used to refer to some interruption or break in a continuous period of time. The word interim has its roots in Latin. This word can be used to describe some provisional arrangement or intermediate interval of time.