From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Abyss.



Alternative forms




From Middle English abissus, from Late Latin abyssus (a bottomless gulf), from Ancient Greek ἄβυσσος (ábussos, bottomless), from ἀ- (a-, not) + βυσσός (bussós, deep place),[1][2] from βυθός (buthós, deep place).[3] Displaced native Old English neowolnes.





abyss (plural abysses)

  1. Hell; the bottomless pit; primeval chaos; a confined subterranean ocean. [First attested around 1350 to 1470.][1]
  2. (frequently figurative) A bottomless or unfathomed depth, gulf, or chasm; hence, any deep, immeasurable; any void space. [First attested in the late 16th century.][1]
    • 1960 December, Voyageur, “The Mountain Railways of the Bernese Oberland”, in Trains Illustrated, page 752:
      Below is the deep abyss of the Lauterbrunnen valley, and at its head a stately semi-circle of mountains, with the pyramidal Lauterbrunnen Breithorn as the centre-piece.
  3. Anything infinite, immeasurable, or profound. [First attested in the late 16th century.][1]
  4. Moral depravity; vast intellectual or moral depth.
    They fell into the abyss of drug addiction.
  5. (with article) An impending catastrophic happening.
  6. (heraldry) The center of an escutcheon.
  7. (oceanography) The abyssal zone.
  8. (figurative) A difference, especially a large difference, between groups.
    Synonym: gulf

Derived terms



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief, William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abyss”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 11.
  2. ^ William Morris, editor (1969 (1971 printing)), “abyss”, in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, New York, N.Y.: American Heritage Publishing Co., →OCLC, page 6.
  3. ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], →ISBN), page 9