Interval, intermission or interlude

12 Sep

Today we have an entertainment-themed trio; perhaps in celebration of the launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2011 (Libro doesn’t watch much telly these days: Libro always watches Strictly!). This one was suggested by Friend Of Libro, Gill – one of her holiday list. I thought I had this down but as usual, I looked it up and was a little surprised. Anyway, I’m going to give the official definitions but say which ones I’d use when – I think that’s fair enough!

An interval is defined firstly as an intervening time or space, a pause or a break.  Then, more specifically, it’s a period of time separating parts of a theatrical or musical performance. You know, the bit where you queue for the loo or a drink and then rush back to your seat.

An intermission – well that’s the same – a pause or break, or in our entertainment context, an interval between parts of a play or film.

An interlude is again defined as an intervening period of time and, in regards to entertainment, a pause between the acts of a play.  But it’s also a piece of music played between other pieces (or, indeed, between the verses of a hymn) and this is how I’d use this one – after all, we’ve already got two words for the gap in a play or musical performance.  So let’s keep interlude for that nice bit of music or short ballet piece acting as a little amusement to clear the musical or balletic tastebuds; a kind of sorbet on legs.  The other definition of an interlude is a temporary amusement or diversion, and while interludes of this kind are often romantic, I think my little flight of fancy above probably conforms to this definition too!

You can find more troublesome pairs here.


Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


Tags: , , ,

2 responses to “Interval, intermission or interlude

  1. Gill Rose

    September 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Libro is clearly too young to remember the potter’s wheel interlude on the telly in its early days when reception went funny or there were a few minutes to fill between programmes.


  2. Liz at Libro

    September 12, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I belive Libro clearly is too young to remember that, although it does recall the girl wtih the blackboard and clown which fulfilled the same function. We all, young and slightly less young, agree it’s an interlude, though, right?



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