Definition of interval in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈin(t)ərvəl/


1An intervening time or space: after his departure, there was an interval of many years without any meetings the intervals between meals were very short
More example sentences
  • The sunny weather somehow morphed into gales, bright sunny intervals, a thunderstorm that would not have been out of place in the tropics and light showers.
  • It was a very showery day yesterday, with a number of heavy downpours between sunny intervals.
  • Be committed to eating smaller meals at regular intervals.
interim, interlude, intervening time, intervening period, meantime, meanwhile
2A pause; a break in activity: an interval of mourning
More example sentences
  • Basically, interval training alternates short bursts of higher-intensity exercise with intervals of slower activity that allow the body a little break.
  • Whether you choose to run, cycle, swim or use cardiovascular gym equipment, break up a 30 minute workout with intervals of hard activity so that you push yourself just beyond your comfort zone.
  • However, if the pause intervals are too long, physiological systems will not be stressed enough to induce a training effect.
stretch, period, time, spell;
break, pause, gap
2.1British An intermission separating parts of a theatrical or musical performance.
Example sentences
  • Performances were divided into five acts separated by intervals during which music was played.
  • And after the interval comes some of the fiercest theatrical drumming I've heard since Ariane Mnouchkine's production of The Oresteia.
  • The string quartet will play during the reception and there will be a licensed bar during the interval and throughout the performance.
2.2British A break between the parts of an athletic contest: leading 3-0 at the interval
More example sentences
  • They were unfortunate not to have held the lead at the interval, after matching the lively home side in most aspects of play.
  • Play was on the halfway line when the interval came, with France leading by two goal points.
  • But if that goal seconds before the interval left the game poised on a knife edge it was nothing compared to what followed in the opening 13 minutes of the second period.
3A space between two things; a gap.
Example sentences
  • There was nothing in the four feet wide gap but windowless knobbed doors spaced at even intervals; none of them had a label in which to portray the doors' purposes.
  • A well-trodden path wends its way around the water - apart from a spot where a small natural wood hugs the shoreline - and sturdy platforms are spaced at regular intervals.
  • Six hundred giant pylons, spaced at 300 metre intervals, are needed simply to carry the weight of the massive 400,000 volt power lines.
opening, distance, span, space, area
3.1The difference in pitch between two musical sounds.
Example sentences
  • In tonal music the intervals between the successive pitches are not literally replicated but become the equivalents within the diatonic scale.
  • The composer here plays with the sounds of particular intervals as much as complete melodies.
  • I think there is a psychological aspect to it: that the musician remains effected by the very sound of the intervals.
4A component of activity in interval training: use one day a week for short, sprint intervals
More example sentences
  • You can do intervals by alternating power walking with easy jogging.
  • Warm up for five minutes, then do sprint intervals.
  • Here's one more extra piece of advice: Do high-intensity intervals instead of just regular low-intensity cardio.


at intervals

1With time between, not continuously: the light flashed at intervals
More example sentences
  • The appointment of Australians, at intervals from 1931 and continuously from 1965, broke this link.
  • From these little blobs the sun threw back at intervals bright flashes of steel as the tribesmen waved their swords.
  • Tallages continued to be demanded at intervals until 1340, when Edward III agreed that the consent of Parliament must be obtained.
2With spaces between: the path is marked with rocks at intervals
More example sentences
  • Folded sediments of pink-brown rock rise on either side, broken at intervals by dark basalt columns of solidified magma and occasional leopard caves.
  • The ceiling was domed and pillars were placed periodically at intervals to show their golden and chrome beauty to the crowd.
  • In both directions I encountered a few stretches where there were countdowns to a 50 mph limit, which was then posted at intervals along the central reservation.



Pronunciation: /ˌin(t)ərˈvalik/
Example sentences
  • In America this intervallic source is contained in the opening flute line which, as we have already seen, is reiterated by the mezzo-soprano at the climax of the first part of the first movement.
  • I may start a piece inspired by some kind of intervallic symmetry or mathematical relationship (axial symmetry of a particular set, for example) but later, as the writing progresses faster, intuition takes place completely.
  • Since twentieth-century music often is less melodic in a traditional sense, pianists are required to perform large leaps, execute quick changes in direction and negotiate unusual intervallic groupings and clusters.


Middle English: from Old French entrevalle, based on Latin intervallum 'space between ramparts, interval', from inter- 'between' + vallum 'rampart'.

  • The word interval is from Old French entrevalle, based on Latin intervallum ‘space between ramparts, interval’, from inter- ‘between’ and vallum ‘rampart’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: in·ter·val

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