Definition of interval in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɪntəv(ə)l/


1An intervening time: after his departure, there was an interval of many years without any meetings the day should be dry with sunny intervals
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;
1.1A component of activity in interval training: they ran, sprinted, and jogged for four 15-minute intervals at two different times
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.
2A pause or 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.
intermission, interlude, entr'acte, break, recess, pause, gap;
lull, respite;
2.1British A period of time 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.
2.2A break between the parts of a sports match: United led 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.
stretch, distance, span, area;
space, gap, interspace
4The difference in pitch between two 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.


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: /ɪntəˈvalɪk/
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

Line breaks: inter|val

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