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A mussel (genus Mytilus), attached to a rock by its byssus (filaments)


From New Latin byssus (sea silk), from Latin byssus (fine cotton or cotton stuff, silk), from Ancient Greek βύσσος (bussos, a very fine yellowish flax and the linen woven from it), from Hebrew בּוּץ (búts), Aramaic בּוש (bus).


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byssus (usually uncountable, plural byssuses)

  1. An exceptionally fine and valuable fibre or cloth of ancient times. Originally used for fine flax and linens, its use was later extended to fine cottons, silks, and sea silk.
  2. The long fine silky filaments excreted by several mollusks (particularly Pinna nobilis) by which they attach themselves to the sea bed, and from which sea silk is manufactured.
  3. (mycology) The stipe or stem of some fungi which are particularly thin and thread-like.


Related terms[edit]


  • The Compact edition of the Oxford English dictionary: complete text reproduced micrographically and Supplement. Oxford at the Clarendon Press. 1987
  • Webster's Third New International Dictionary (Unabridged) 1976. G. & C. Merriam Co.



byssus m (genitive byssī); second declension

  1. byssus


Second declension.

Number Singular Plural
nominative byssus byssī
genitive byssī byssōrum
dative byssō byssīs
accusative byssum byssōs
ablative byssō byssīs
vocative bysse byssī