early 14c., "time elapsed between two actions or events," from Old French intervalle "interval, interim" (14c.), earlier entreval (13c.) and directly from Late Latin intervallum "a space between, an interval of time, a distance," originally "space between palisades or ramparts" [OED], from inter "between" (see inter-) + vallum "rampart, palisade, wall," which is apparently a collective form of vallus "stake," from PIE *walso- "a post" (see wall (n.)).
Metaphoric sense of "gap in time" also was in Latin. From c. 1400 in English as "a pause, an interruption in a state or activity." Musical sense "difference in pitch between two tones" is from c. 1600. Related: Intervallic.
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