v. paused, paus·ing, paus·es
1. To cease or suspend an action temporarily: She paused in her piano exercises to listen for the baby.
2. To hesitate: He paused before replying.
3. To linger; tarry: We paused for a while under the huge oak tree.
To cease or suspend the action of temporarily; stop for an interim: paused the printer to add more paper; paused the DVD with the remote.
a. A break, stop, or rest, often for a calculated purpose or effect: After a dramatic pause, the lawyer finished her summation.
b. A delay or suspended reaction, as from uncertainty; a hesitation: After a pause the audience broke into cheers.
c. Delay or hesitation: spoke without pause for an hour.
d. Reason for hesitation: The immensity of the task gives one pause.
a. Music A sign, such as a fermata, indicating that a note or rest is to be held.
b. A break or rest in a line of poetry; a caesura.
3. A control mechanism on an audio or video player that halts the playing of a recording and permits playing to be easily resumed from the same point.
[From Middle English, pause, from Old French, from Latin pausa, from Greek pausis, from pauein, to stop.]
Synonyms: pause, intermission, recess, respite, suspension
These nouns denote a temporary stop, as in activity: a short pause in the conversation; a concert with a 15-minute intermission; the legislature's summer recess; toiling without respite; a suspension of work.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.