Hold on a minute
This is an entry in the Saturday series of Timeless & Timely called “Off the Clock,” where we focus on words, a quirk of history or literature, or something just plain fun. Make sure you don’t miss a single issue.
Continuity is important in many things: leadership, storytelling—even Wordle scores.
But occasionally, there are gaps that are unavoidable.
I nearly thought there might be a gap this week on “Off the Clock,” as I’ve been traveling and there’s a holiday this weekend.
It got me to thinking about the word hiatus.
From the Latin hiātus, meaning opening, gap, we use hiatus to signify an interruption of continuity or a gap in time.
For example, when Sherlock Holmes was killed off in “The Adventure of the Final Problem” (dated 1891) he didn’t appear again chronologically until “The Adventure of the Empty House” (dated 1894). Sherlock Holmes fans call this “The Great Hiatus.”
While researching the origins of the word, I also found another definition, specific to grammar:
“The coming together, with or without break or slight pause, and without contraction, of two vowels in successive words or syllables, as in see easily.”
This is a long way of saying that there may be a hiatus next week.
Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a favorite scene from the Carnac bit Johnny Carson used to perform on The Tonight Show.
The scene was always the same: sidekick Ed McMahon would hand Carnac a sealed envelope, and Carnac would divine the contents of the envelope by giving the answer. He’d then rip open the envelope and read the question.
In this case, the exchange went as follows:
Carnac: “The answer is: hiatus.”
[Rips open envelope]
“What do you say when you meet an atus?”
And if you’ve made it this far, here’s another classic Carnac bit, just for a giggle.
Thanks, and I’ll see you on the internet.
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