Definition of interval in US English:



  • 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’
    • ‘On a recent visit, three friends and I ordered four main courses and amused ourselves by passing each plate to our right at arbitrary intervals, so as to vary our meals and taste as many dishes as we could.’
    • ‘Once you're diagnosed as diabetic, the only way that you can live a healthy and productive lifestyle is to take your insulin at regular intervals, to eat regular meals and to have a healthy diet and exercise.’
    • ‘Consumers can help themselves by limiting the interval between meals and limiting the consumption of simple carbohydrates.’
    • ‘I can't give you the years in terms of the intervals, but he left both times because he couldn't make a living.’
    • ‘I do understand that the longer intervals I leave between the reading of each blog, the more I shall have to read on each visit.’
    • ‘Farmers have laboured all hours this week in a bid to recover their harvest in an interval of unexpected dry weather and glorious sunshine.’
    • ‘Be committed to eating smaller meals at regular intervals.’
    • ‘In each case, six fractions of light were given in 2 min intervals interlaced with 2 min intervals when the light was off.’
    • ‘Several of the smaller pools dried during intervals between late August and late October.’
    • ‘Samples of corn pollen were weighed at regular intervals and their dry weight was determined, as described above.’
    • ‘They will stay in a big house together and train every day while learning about physical, mental and medical fitness (their blood will be tested before they leave, and at weekly intervals on the trip).’
    • ‘The cross-bedded sandstones represent dunes from the dry intervals, when plant and animal life was less abundant.’
    • ‘Our experiments did not simulate the effects of climate change when spreading rates can be expected to accelerate during wet intervals and decelerate during dry intervals.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A British stockade stood at the border of the two neighborhoods, patrols leaving at regular intervals despite a recently declared cease-fire.’
    • ‘Women undergoing hysterectomy for nonmalignant conditions were invited to participate in the study and be interviewed at regular intervals for two years following surgery.’
    • ‘When it's eight meals, they're very small and my meal interval is 2-2 1/2 hours.’
    • ‘Figure 3 shows how the percentage of calories from fat changed with the interval between meals.’
    • ‘It was a very showery day yesterday, with a number of heavy downpours between sunny intervals.’
    • ‘Crowd management then shepherds the groups, which seem to leave at 15 minute intervals, to the door of the house where one of a fleet of guides greets them and commences the tour.’
    interim, interlude, intervening time, intervening period, meantime, meanwhile
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    1. 1.1 A component of activity in interval training.
      ‘use one day a week for short, sprint intervals’
      • ‘In a study conducted at Laval University, researchers concluded that high-intensity intervals appeared to favor fat oxidation more than low-to moderate-intensity cardio did.’
      • ‘Warm up for five minutes, then do sprint intervals.’
      • ‘Be cautious with these intervals if you have knee issues, or do not do them at all.’
      • ‘Do 2 sets of 3 - 5 intervals, resting 3 - 5 minutes in between.’
      • ‘Intervals - run 10 - 30 seconds, rest twice as long as you ran.’
      • ‘The most common protocol for high-intensity intervals is doing sprints outdoors with a 1:3 work-to-rest ratio.’
      • ‘Sprint intervals and high-intensity weight training are demanding - make sure you have your doctor's clearance before trying either technique.’
      • ‘You can do intervals by alternating power walking with easy jogging.’
      • ‘For an advanced workout, perform sprint intervals during both cardio B and cardio C, and increase the length of each interval to 90 seconds of sprinting, followed by 90 seconds of recovery jog.’
      • ‘Here's one more extra piece of advice: Do high-intensity intervals instead of just regular low-intensity cardio.’
      • ‘After your sprint intervals, jump off the treadmill and grab a medicine ball or light dumbbell for three sets of woodchoppers - a dynamic, twisting move that'll really generate some power in your midsection.’
      • ‘Intervals come in many forms, so don't feel like you have to limit yourself to the cardio machines at the gym.’
      • ‘Not only will intervals allow you to train harder and burn more calories, but you'll also challenge yourself and dump the boredom of yet another session of steady-speed cardio training.’
      • ‘Basically, what this means is that high-intensity intervals can help you burn more fat!’
  • 2A pause or break in activity.

    ‘an interval of mourning’
    • ‘For some other systems, there still could be long intervals between periods of high use.’
    • ‘If the task can be repeated without a decline in average power output from one exercise interval to the next then the pause interval permits complete recovery of performance.’
    • ‘The beat of simultaneity is made possible by intervals of non-presence or pause.’
    • ‘Basically, interval training alternates short bursts of higher-intensity exercise with intervals of slower activity that allow the body a little break.’
    • ‘The great rhythms of the earth are built on motion and on the intervals or pauses.’
    • ‘We arranged the room with care and we had a very precise running order that allowed for intervals and breaks.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘An overview of the average duration of all periods of activity, and rest intervals, observed during games at a men's National Championship are presented in table II.’
    intermission, interlude, entr'acte, break, recess, pause, gap
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    1. 2.1British An intermission separating parts of a theatrical or musical performance.
      • ‘To be fair, the audience, or some of them, found the evening amusing although I noticed there were a number who left in the interval.’
      • ‘How loud is a person allowed to shout in order to attract the attention of someone in the interval of a concert, whether at a Prom or elsewhere?’
      • ‘Meanwhile, in the interval, the audience is positive about this very different version of one of Shakespeare's most famous plays.’
      • ‘Performances were divided into five acts separated by intervals during which music was played.’
      • ‘The first half of this action-filled story is so alive and challenging that it dares the audience to take its eyes from the stage, until the breathing space of the interval.’
      • ‘After the interval the show veers towards panto.’
      • ‘After the interval the soloist had changed from her strapless, formfitting glittering blue to a classical, double-tiered dress in subdued pastels.’
      • ‘And after the interval comes some of the fiercest theatrical drumming I've heard since Ariane Mnouchkine's production of The Oresteia.’
      • ‘After the interval we heard Milhaud's own re-orchestration of his ballet score La Creation du Monde for piano and string quartet.’
      • ‘Following the interval came Schubert's haunting Trio in B flat D898.’
      • ‘Dromgoole also seems to have a utopian idea that, during theatre intervals, the audience discusses the performances and the issues being raised in the play.’
      • ‘The string quartet will play during the reception and there will be a licensed bar during the interval and throughout the performance.’
      • ‘Following an interval the performance follows and lasts about an hour.’
      • ‘Surely it is possible for smokers to visit a cinema or theatre for an hour or two and then light up in an interval in a smoking area or alternatively wait until the end of the performance.’
      • ‘A fully licensed cash bar will be available prior to the performance and during the interval.’
      • ‘Owen returned after the interval as soloist in Constant Lambert's Rio Grande, and the programme ended, for no very obvious reason, with Copland's Rodeo.’
    2. 2.2 A break between the parts of an athletic contest.
      ‘United led 3-0 at the interval’
      • ‘But a few times before the interval they almost conceded.’
      • ‘Just before the interval Lindley came back with a chip over the Silsden defence after a sustained pressure to take the score to 16-8.’
      • ‘Thanks also to the ladies committee of the Castlerea St. Kevin's Club for the hospitality and reception during the match interval.’
      • ‘The match lasted just over five hours, including the interval.’
      • ‘Shortly after the interval the long ball almost bore fruit.’
      • ‘To their credit they kept the deficit to a single goal at the interval.’
      • ‘The match was abandoned when rain washed out play during the lunch interval.’
      • ‘The interval illuminated a match which travelled fast but went nowhere.’
      • ‘Having fielded a sluggish team in the first half against Cameroon, his tactical adjustment during the interval transformed the match.’
      • ‘Again the Cougars showed their fighting sprit to open the scoring after the interval.’
      • ‘The match continued to be evenly contested after the interval and played mainly in midfield.’
      • ‘The Villagers only trailed 16-4 at the interval but paid the penalty for poor defence in the second half.’
      • ‘A second goal eased them into the interval and the third seconds after the break banished any nerves.’
      • ‘In less than 15 minutes of play either side of the interval they had conceded 22 points to the reigning world champions without managing a reply.’
      • ‘They were unfortunate not to have held the lead at the interval, after matching the lively home side in most aspects of play.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Play was on the halfway line when the interval came, with France leading by two goal points.’
      • ‘The Conference side broke the deadlock six minutes before the interval and added a second just after the hour.’
      • ‘No sign of what was to follow after the interval as our fellows matched, and sometimes bettered, the visitors in a lively and very entertaining first half.’
      • ‘At half-time against Norway yesterday, this supposed cultured voice from abroad was sent to the stand after berating the match officials during the interval.’
  • 3A space between two things; a gap.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Spaces recurring at regular intervals but shifting to the right on each subsequent line create an intricate, jacquardlike weave.’
    • ‘It has put up clear warnings about the dangers of the sea at regular intervals along this stretch of coastline.’
    • ‘The project has shed light on the intensity of landscape occupation in the Middle Bronze Age, when settlements were spaced at roughly one-mile intervals, and again in the Mid-Late Iron Age.’
    • ‘His roosters live, with their left legs tethered, in green plastic barrels spaced at ten-foot intervals behind his house.’
    • ‘It's a marvelous engineering feat, with brick vaults supported on 336 columns spaced at four-meter intervals.’
    • ‘They dab various quantities of minus-ceralure on cotton wicks inside the traps, then hang the traps at carefully spaced intervals throughout the orchard.’
    • ‘The surgeon uses a special wand that has three reflecting silver spheres spaced at different intervals.’
    • ‘Semicircular solid bastions were spaced at regular intervals along the ramparts.’
    • ‘Six hundred giant pylons, spaced at 300 metre intervals, are needed simply to carry the weight of the massive 400,000 volt power lines.’
    • ‘They're spaced at regular intervals throughout a city and could be used for - well, something, he added.’
    • ‘Both sides of the hall were lined with doors and even the ceiling had trapdoors spaced at periodic intervals in it.’
    • ‘The plan involves driving through an area, stopping at fixed distance intervals, assessing the field, and conducting physical counts.’
    • ‘My best guess is that the intervals will be spaced farther apart.’
    • ‘Laminated timber portal frames bolted to a concrete raft slab on strip foundations are spaced at 5m intervals.’
    • ‘In this house system, the twelve divisions are very much like spokes of a wheel, equally spaced at 30 degree intervals, with all houses being the same size.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For example, leave six to eight rows of stalks standing at intermittent intervals to slow the wind and trap snow.’
    • ‘The men were spaced at equal intervals, Kell said, 10 to 15 yards apart, and crossed slowly and without looking back, as their names were called.’
    • ‘Do this over the whole area at 15 cm intervals and then brush sharp sand into the holes to stop them closing up again.’
    stretch, distance, span, area
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  • 4The difference in pitch between two musical sounds.

    • ‘Essentially, ear training is a set of exercises designed to help young musicians learn and identify musical intervals, pitch, rhythm and so on.’
    • ‘Therefore, there are 12 intervals of a half-step forming what is called an octave.’
    • ‘I think there is a psychological aspect to it: that the musician remains effected by the very sound of the intervals.’
    • ‘Some basics of music theory also are explained including scales, key signatures, chords, intervals, transposition and the circle of fifths.’
    • ‘Unit Four introduces melodic and harmonic intervals; by Unit Six, the student is playing the C-major chord in the left hand.’
    • ‘Included are the fundamentals of harmony, such as intervals, triads, chords, modulation and so on.’
    • ‘As the string continues its natural division, creating ever-higher overtones, the intervals between them become smaller and sound more dissonant.’
    • ‘Apart from the fact that a greater number of units would then be needed, thus increasing the cost, semitone intervals, as on a piano and as in all sheet music, are familiar to most people, and therefore logical.’
    • ‘The composer here plays with the sounds of particular intervals as much as complete melodies.’
    • ‘Thanks to the additional hole, each flute can play eight pitches, and despite some differences, the range of pitches and the intervals between them are similar.’
    • ‘And you hear this dissonant intervals of pitch between these two parts in Bulgaria - in Georgia you hear them mostly, two top parts and there is also bass.’
    • ‘The first thing that you should understand in your interval journey, is what the intervals are in a major scale.’
    • ‘‘Carnival Fun’ drills harmonic intervals on treble or bass staff.’
    • ‘Charlotte will not stress the wide dissonant intervals that grind in the bass or the harmonic uncertainty that besets this opening.’
    • ‘They are born artists: dancers who writhe rhythmically; musicians - singing intervals long before they speak language.’
    • ‘In tonal music the intervals between the successive pitches are not literally replicated but become the equivalents within the diatonic scale.’
    • ‘Many composers have borrowed intervals widely present in folk music.’
    • ‘All melodic and harmonic intervals up to the fifth are employed in these pieces.’
    • ‘After the conclusion of the exposition in bar 182, Mozart needs only nine bars to reach the key of B minor - at the interval of a tritone.’
    • ‘These music interval flash cards are designed to help you recognize common musical intervals on the staff, in both treble and in bass clefs.’


  • at intervals

    • 1With time between; not continuously.

      ‘the light flashed at intervals’
      • ‘After she had chewed most of the sandwich, she continued, still swallowing at intervals.’
      • ‘Attendees are served white rum and strong coffee at intervals throughout the event, which may continue well into the night.’
      • ‘They had clung to each other for warmth through the night, with Michael flashing his torch into the darkness at intervals.’
      • ‘Tallages continued to be demanded at intervals until 1340, when Edward III agreed that the consent of Parliament must be obtained.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These noisy discharges of explosives start when it first gets dark and continue at intervals into the early hours of the morning.’
      • ‘The silly, liberating antics expected on such occasions escalate at intervals into orgiastic nastiness.’
      • ‘Observations also occurred at intervals throughout the research period.’
      • ‘This had continued at intervals ever since the 1740s, and even in 1815 there remained fears that war would break out afresh.’
    • 2With spaces between.

      ‘the path is marked with rocks at intervals’
      • ‘The ceiling was domed and pillars were placed periodically at intervals to show their golden and chrome beauty to the crowd.’
      • ‘On a brighter note, new street lighting is to be put in place in the next week or two and will consist of lantern type lighting placed at intervals along the main street of the village.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The room was lit with candles, placed at intervals throughout the room and there was soft music playing in the back ground.’
      • ‘Other lochs divide the Cowal coastline at intervals, and right in the middle sits one of the peninsula's defining and scenic attractions, Loch Eck, which we came to know well on our walks.’
      • ‘Spanning the road at intervals were gantries of lights indicating three lanes in, and one lane out - at morning rush hour.’
      • ‘They gleamed in the light coming from the glowing orbs set at intervals along the street.’
      • ‘The same approach extends to the inside, with flashes of colour applied at intervals to walls, providing visual incident and points of orientation.’
      • ‘Slip joints are required at intervals in metal flashing to permit thermal expansion and contraction.’
      • ‘Folded sediments of pink-brown rock rise on either side, broken at intervals by dark basalt columns of solidified magma and occasional leopard caves.’


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