One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A space separating teeth of different functions, especially that between the biting teeth (incisors and canines) and grinding teeth (premolars and molars) in rodents and ungulates.
- ‘If a horse has a narrower diastema, a smaller or flatter palate, and/or a fat or thick tongue, a thinner bit may be far more comfortable in that horse's mouth than a thick one.’
- ‘As in the traversodonts, a large gap - the diastema - separated the incisors from the square cheek teeth (seven on each side).’
- ‘Incisors and canines are absent, but the anterior cheek teeth are enlarged, triangular in cross section, and canine-like. They are separated from the rest of the cheek teeth by a diastema.’
- ‘The canines are absent or vestigial, and a substantial diastema separates incisors and cheek teeth.’
- ‘The bit sits in a part of the horse's mouth called the diastema, which is a section devoid of teeth that lies between the front incisors and the back pre-molars and molars.’
- 1.1 A gap between a person's two upper front teeth.
Mid 19th century: via late Latin from Greek diastēma ‘space between’.
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