n. pl. hi·a·tus·es or hiatus
1. A gap or interruption in space, time, or continuity; a break: "We are likely to be disconcerted by ... hiatuses of thought" (Edmund Wilson).
2. Linguistics A slight pause that occurs when two immediately adjacent vowels in consecutive syllables are pronounced, as in reality and naive.
3. Anatomy A separation, aperture, fissure, or short passage in an organ or body part.
[Latin hiātus, from past participle of hiāre, to gape.]
hi·atal (-ātl) adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.