Sunday, May 22, 2005


Pl. hiatus, hiatuses. [a. L. hiatus gaping, gap, opening, f. hiare to gape.]

1. a. A break in the continuity of a material object; a gaping chasm; an opening or aperture. Now rare.

1563 W. Fulke Meteors (1640) 17b, These holes called Hiatus, differ from wide gapings, in nothing, but that they be lesse, and therefore seeme deepe pits or holes, and not gaping. 1599 Broughton's Let. xiii. 44 Hades was below, and Abraham's bosome was aboue, and betweene them both a great huge Hiatus. 1675 R. Burthogge Causa Dei 319 He saw two Openings or Hiatus in the Earth. 1695 Woodward Nat. Hist. Earth iii. i. 117 The Water of this orb communicates with that of the Ocean, by means of certain Hiatus's or Chasmes passing betwixt it and the bottom of the Ocean. 1737 Franklin Lett. Wks. 1840 VI. 5 Those hiatuses at the bottom of the sea, whereby the abyss below opens into it and communicates with it. 1885 Manch. Exam. 22 June 5/3 One side of the mountain was rent into a large hiatus about 200 yards square.

c. humorously. A rent or hole in a garment.

1761 Sterne Tr. Shandy IV. xxvii, The hiatus in Phutatorius's breeches was sufficiently wide to receive the chesnut.

2. a. A gap or interruption of continuity in a chronological or other series; a lacuna which destroys the completeness of a sentence, account, writing, etc.; a missing link in a chain of events, etc.

1613 Jackson Creed ii. xix. §6 To forewarne the Reader of the hiatus in our aduersaries collections. 1655 Fuller Ch. Hist. ii. iii. §17 A Dunce-Monk, being to make his Epitaph at Night left the Verse thus gaping, Hic sunt in fossa Bedæ I ossa, till he had consulted with his Pillow, to fill up the Hiatus. 1676 W. Hubbard Happiness of P. 57 When there are such Chasmaes and hiatus's in the superiour or inferiour parts of a state, they are sad Omens, portending ruine. 1797 Monthly Mag. III. 264 It was printed in the usual Greek characters, with all the hiatus filled up by conjecture. 1844 H. Rogers Ess. I. ii. 59 In 1671+there is another hiatus in his correspondence. It extends over three years. 1874 Carpenter Ment. Phys. i. i. §1 A Material Instrument, whose function it is to bridge over the hiatus between the individual Consciousness and the External World.

b. Logic. A step wanting in a chain of proof; a gap in reasoning or evidence.

a1850 J. C. Calhoun Wks. (1874) II. 269 Where is that hiatus between the premises and the conclusion?

3. Gram. and Pros. The break between two vowels coming together without an intervening consonant in successive words or syllables. Also attrib. and Comb., as hiatus-consonant, -filler, -glide; hiatus-filling adj.
The break or interval of silence is necessary in order that the two vowels may be separately heard, when there is no intervening consonant to mark the division between them.

1706 Pope Let. to Walsh 22 Oct., The Hiatus which has the worst effect, is, when one Word ends with the same Vowel that begins the following. 1875 Lowell Spenser Prose Wks. 1890 IV. 309 note, He [Milton] also shuns a hiatus which does not seem to have been generally displeasing to Spenser's ear. a1898 Mod. The article an has been reduced to a, except before vowels, where hiatus would result. 1945 Mod. Lang. Notes Dec. 550 The spelling donmore for Dunmowe may indicate the development of a hiatus-filling r in sandhi. 1948 D. Diringer Alphabet ii. vi. 350 The letters were also used as ‘hiatus-consonants’. 1953 K. H. Jackson Lang. & Hist. Early Brit. 278 The hiatus-glide with native e was 6. Ibid. 367 The hiatus-filler here is 7 rather than 6. 1968 Language XLIV. 454 The general outlines of this ‘hiatus diphthongization’ have been known for more than three-quarters of a century.

I'll be back at the Manse mid-June beloved readers.

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