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Pause vs. Hiatus: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 2, 2023
A pause is a brief stop or break in action, while a hiatus is a longer interruption or gap, often with a sense of suspension.

Key Differences

A pause is often momentary and brief, used for effect or to consider, while a hiatus suggests a more extended break, potentially without immediate resumption. Pauses punctuate, whereas hiatuses create voids.
Pauses are common in everyday activities, like conversations or tasks, and imply a soon resumption. Hiatuses are significant gaps in series or careers, suggesting a substantial interruption that may or may not end.
A pause is tactical, incorporated into speeches for emphasis or in music for rhythm, but a hiatus is strategic, occurring in careers or series, often to reassess or redevelop.
The pause is integral to communication, allowing absorption of information, but a hiatus indicates a withdrawal, often leading to speculation or anticipation about what comes after.
While pauses are fleeting and often go unnoticed, a hiatus is typically significant enough to warrant announcement, such as a TV series season ending or a sabbatical from work.

Comparison Chart


Short, temporary.
Longer, extended.


Brief stop, then continuation.
Gap with uncertain resumption.

Common Use

Speech, music, casual activities.
Professional fields, series, long projects.


Emphasis, reflection, interruption.
Rest, reevaluation, significant break.


Subtle, often expected.
Noticeable, can be strategic or forced.

Pause and Hiatus Definitions


An interruption in a piece of music.
The score indicated a pause at the end of the phrase.


A lapse in a series or process.
The TV show took a hiatus and returned with a new season.


A brief silence for effect or deliberation.
The speaker used a pause to let the significance of his words sink in.


A period of rest or suspension.
He's taking a hiatus from work to travel the world.


A temporary stop in action or speech.
She took a pause before revealing the news.


A break or interruption in the continuity of a work.
There was a two-year hiatus between her novels.


A control mechanism on an electronic device.
He hit the pause button on the remote to answer the phone.


A gap or passage in an anatomical part.
The hiatus in the tissue was detected in the scan.


A hesitation showing uncertainty.
There was a pause in her voice when she lied.


A gap or break in continuity.
The band went on hiatus after their tour.


To cease or suspend an action temporarily
She paused in her piano exercises to listen for the baby.


A gap or interruption in space, time, or continuity; a break
"We are likely to be disconcerted by ... hiatuses of thought" (Edmund Wilson).


To hesitate
He paused before replying.


(Linguistics) A slight pause that occurs when two immediately adjacent vowels in consecutive syllables are pronounced, as in reality and naive.


Is a pause always silent?

Often, but not necessarily; it can be marked by filler sounds too.

Can a hiatus occur naturally?

Yes, it can happen in natural processes or seasons.

Does a pause imply completion?

Not always; it's often a break before completion.

Can a hiatus be planned?

Yes, many hiati are intentional and planned.

Is a pause always short?

Typically, yes, it's shorter than a hiatus.

Are hiati always long?

Generally, they're longer than pauses but can vary in length.

Is a hiatus measurable?

It can be, especially if it's a scheduled break.

Do pauses require notification?

Not usually; they're often informal and brief.

Can a pause be measured?

In some contexts, like music or video, yes.

Can a hiatus end unexpectedly?

Yes, if circumstances change, a hiatus can end sooner than planned.

Can pauses affect the flow of conversation?

Yes, they can disrupt or enhance the flow.

Do hiati affect continuity in series?

Yes, they create a noticeable gap.

Are hiati common in television?

Yes, seasonal breaks between TV show episodes are common hiati.

Can a pause become a hiatus?

A prolonged pause may effectively turn into a hiatus.

Is announcing a hiatus common?

Yes, especially in professional or formal contexts.

Are pauses considered positive?

They can be positive, neutral, or negative depending on context.

Is a hiatus seen as a good thing?

It can be, especially if it's for rest or improvement.

Can you take a pause in reading?

Yes, readers often pause to contemplate what they've read.

Is a hiatus common in academic careers?

Sabbaticals are a common form of hiatus in academia.

Do all electronic devices have a pause function?

Most media players and many electronic devices do.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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