from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Physiology The normal rhythmically occurring relaxation and dilatation of the heart chambers, especially the ventricles, during which they fill with blood.
  • noun The lengthening of a normally short syllable in Greek and Latin verse.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The normal rhythmical dilatation or relaxation of the heart or other blood-vessel, which alternates with systole or contraction, the two movements together constituting pulsation or beating: as, auricular diastole; ventricular diastole.
  • noun The period or length of time during which a rhythmically pulsating vessel is relaxed or dilated; the time-interval which alternates with systole.
  • noun In Greek grammar, a mark similar in position and shape to a comma, but originally semicircular in form, used to indicate the correct separation of words, and guard against a false division, such as might pervert the sense.
  • noun In ancient prosody, lengthening or protraction of a syllable regularly short; especially, protraction of a syllable preceding a pause or taking the ictus: as

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Physiol.) The rhythmical expansion or dilatation of the heart and arteries; -- correlative to systole, or contraction.
  • noun (Gram.) A figure by which a syllable naturally short is made long.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun physiology The phase or process of relaxation and dilation of the heart chambers, between contractions, during which they fill with blood; an instance of the process.
  • noun uncountable, prosody The lengthening of a vowel or syllable beyond its typical length.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the widening of the chambers of the heart between two contractions when the chambers fill with blood


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Greek diastolē, dilation, separation, from diastellein, to expand : dia-, apart; see dia– + stellein, to place, send; see stel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek διαστολή (diastolē, "separation, drawing asunder"), from διά (dia, "apart") + στέλλειν (stellein, "send").


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  • Mentioned with its cousin systole in the Robinson Jeffers' poem The Great Explosion:

    And no doubt it will burst again; diastole and systole: the

            whole universe beats like a heart.

    April 9, 2007