Definitions

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

  • n. An immeasurably deep chasm, depth, or void: "lost in the vast abysses of space and time” ( Loren Eiseley).
  • n. The primeval chaos out of which it was believed that the earth and sky were formed.
  • n. The abode of evil spirits; hell.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Moral depravity; vast intellectual or moral depth.
  • n. An impending catastrophic happening.
  • n. The center of an escutcheon.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A bottomless or unfathomed depth, gulf, or chasm; hence, any deep, immeasurable, and, specifically, hell, or the bottomless pit.
  • n. Infinite time; a vast intellectual or moral depth.
  • n. The center of an escutcheon.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To engulf.
  • n. A bottomless gulf; any deep, immeasurable space; anything profound and unfathomable, whether literally or figuratively; specifically, hell; the bottomless pit.
  • n. In heraldry, the center of an escutcheon; the fesse-point.

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

  • n. a bottomless gulf or pit; any unfathomable (or apparently unfathomable) cavity or chasm or void extending below (often used figuratively)

Etymologies

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

Middle English abissus, from Late Latin abyssus, from Greek abussos, bottomless : a-, without; see a-1 + bussos, bottom.

Examples

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  • "He felt in his pockets. All he found was money, nothing smaller than a thousand-kroner note. He gave them that.

    'I mustn't take,' said the boy. 'That's what my mother says.'

    Kasper stood up.

    'From Santa Claus,' he said, 'you can take anything. Tell your mother that. Say that Santa is going to come and nibble her earlobe.'

    'What about my father?'

    Kasper began heading down toward the earth's surface.

    'Santa Claus will come and nibble him as well.'

    'I've got a dog too,' said the little girl hopefully.

    'I'm sorry,' said Kasper. 'Even Santa Claus has to set limits.'

    'You don't talk very nice,' said the girl.

    Kasper turned toward her.

    'For children to know where the abyss is, and be careful,' he said, 'you need to take them all the way out and show them the edge.'"

    - 'The Quiet Girl', Peter Høeg.

    March 18, 2008

  • A loanword from Ancient Mesopotamia (Sumerian language).

    January 31, 2008

  • The sequel to the film Abyss: the Son of Abyss.

    December 14, 2006