noun, plural hi·a·tus·es, hi·a·tus.

  1. a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.
  2. a missing part; gap or lacuna: Scholars attempted to account for the hiatus in the medieval manuscript.
  3. any gap or opening.
  4. 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.
  5. Anatomy. a natural fissure, cleft, or foramen in a bone or other structure.

noun plural -tuses or -tus

  1. (esp in manuscripts) a break or gap where something is missing
  2. a break or interruption in continuity
  3. a break between adjacent vowels in the pronunciation of a word
  4. anatomy a natural opening or aperture; foramen
  5. anatomy a less common word for vulva

1906, from stem of hiatus + -al (1).


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.

n. pl. hiatus

  1. An aperture or fissure in an organ or a body part.
  2. A foramen.

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