early 15c., "fact of intermitting, temporary pause," from Latin intermissionem (nominative intermissio) "a breaking off, discontinuance, interruption," noun of action from past participle stem of intermittere "to leave off, leave an interval," from inter "between" (see inter-) + mittere "let go, send" (see mission). Meaning "lapse of time between events" is from 1560s; specifically of performances (originally plays, later movies, etc.) from 1854.
Intermission is used in U.S. for what we call an interval (in a musical or dramatic performance). Under the influence of LOVE OF THE LONG WORD, it is beginning to infiltrate here and should be repelled; our own word does very well. [H.W. Fowler, "Modern English Usage," 1926]
also quartette, 1773, "musical composition for four solo instruments or voices," from French quartette, from Italian quartetto, diminutive of quarto "fourth," from Latin quartus "the fourth, fourth part" (related to quattuor "four," from PIE root *kwetwer- "four"). Meaning "set of four singers or musical players who perform quartets" is from 1814.
ancient stringed musical instrument, 1789, from Latinized form of Greek kithara (see guitar). Related: Citharist.