American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. An intricate structure of interconnecting passages through which it is difficult to find one's way; a maze.
- n. Greek Mythology The maze in which the Minotaur was confined.
- n. Something highly intricate or convoluted in character, composition, or construction: a labyrinth of rules and regulations.
- n. Anatomy A group of complex interconnecting anatomical cavities.
- n. Anatomy See inner ear.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An intricate combination of passages running into one another from different directions, in which it is difficult or impossible to find the way from point to point, or to reach the place of exit from the interior, without a clue or guide; a maze. The name was anciently given to an edifice with a complicated system of passages connecting a great number of chambers. At the present day it is used especially of a geometrical arrangement of paths or alleys between high hedges in a park or garden, which lead confusedly back and forth, many of them ending in a cul-de-sac, but, when correctly followed, terminating in a central space, often occupied by a pavilion or the like. The most authentic and celebrated ancient labyrinth was that in Egypt near Arsinoë or Crocodilopolis ou Lake Mœris, having 3,000 rooms in two tiers, one of which was subterranean. The Cretan labyrinth, ascribed to Dædalus, was the abode of the fabled monster Minotaur. In medieval churches the labyrinth, formed of tiles or slabs of different colors in the pavement usually of the nave, was a frequent feature. Such labyrinths were formed on a square, circular, or octagonal plan, and were sometimes of such extent that it required 2,000 steps or more to follow their course. These labyrinths were considered emblematic of Christ's progress from Jerusalem to Calvary, and were followed with certain forms of prayer by the pious on their knees, either as a penance or in lieu of a pilgrimage. A number of them survive, as in the cathedrals of chartres and Bayeux, France; but many of the most important have been destroyed, for the reason that, having become mere objects of curiosity, they furnished occasion for disturbance of the religions services. The best known modern labyrinths are that of the garden of Versailles in France and “the maze” of Hampton Court near London.
- n. Any confused complication of objects, lines, ideas, etc.; any thing or subject characterized by intricate turnings or windings; a perplexity.
- n. The internal ear; the essential organ of hearing. It consists of a series of communicating cavities in the petrous portion of the temporal bone, called the osseous labyrinth, and of the membranous labyrinth contained in it. The osseous labyrinth consists of the cavity known as the vestibule, the three semicircular canals, and the cochlea. The vestibule communicates with the tympanum by the fenestra ovalis, which is closed by a membrane and the foot of the stapes. The fenestra rotunda opens from the beginning of the cochlea into the tympanum. It is closed by a membrane. See
- n. In ornithology, same as tympanum, 2
- n. .—5. In mining, an apparatus used in concentrating or dressing slimes. It consists of a series of troughs through which the muddy water from the dresping-floors is made to flow, the particles of ore held in suspension in the water settling themselves according to size and specific gravity. This form of apparatus was formerly much more important than it now is.
- n. A long chamber filled with deflectors or diaphragms placed alternately, used to cool and condense the fumes of mercury, other vapors, or smoke.
- To shut up, inclose, or entangle in or as in a maze or labyrinth.
- n. A maze, especially underground or covered.
- n. Part of the inner ear.
- n. figuratively Anything complicated and confusing, like a maze.
- v. To enclose in a labyrinth, or as though in a labyrinth.
- v. To arrange in the form of labyrinth.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. An edifice or place full of intricate passageways which render it difficult to find the way from the interior to the entrance.
- n. Any intricate or involved inclosure; especially, an ornamental maze or inclosure in a park or garden, having high hedges separating confusingly convoluted passages.
- n. Any object or arrangement of an intricate or involved form, or having a very complicated nature.
- n. An inextricable or bewildering difficulty.
- n. (Anat.) The internal ear. See Note under Ear.
- n. (Metal.) A series of canals through which a stream of water is directed for suspending, carrying off, and depositing at different distances, the ground ore of a metal.
- n. (Arch.) A pattern or design representing a maze, -- often inlaid in the tiled floor of a church, etc.
- n. a complex system of interconnecting cavities; concerned with hearing and equilibrium
- n. complex system of paths or tunnels in which it is easy to get lost
- From Latin labyrinthus, from Ancient Greek λαβύρινθος (labýrinthos) 'maze', possibly from an Anatolian language (compare Lydian labrys 'double-edged axe' and -inthos typical of Anatolian placenames), although the actual etymology of labyrinth is still a matter of conjecture. (Wiktionary)
- Middle English laberinthe, from Latin labyrinthus, from Greek laburinthos; possibly akin to labrus, double-headed axe, of Lydian origin. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“They next went to what he called his labyrinth, which was a little walk he was cutting, zig-zag, through some brushwood, so low that no person above three foot height could be hid by it.”
“Finding the entrance to the labyrinth is not the simplest of steps, for I find myself separated from it by another labyrinth.”
“Pensioner 'entomed in labyrinth of tunnels carved into rubbish'" (Thanks, Robert Pescovitz!)”
“The eleven-circuit labyrinth from the floor of Chartres Cathedral which Nancy uses has no dead ends or blind alleys to confuse or fool, the path always leads to your true self at the centre and followed outward, safely back to the rim.”
“It poked one foreclaw out and curled it over and over, beckoning them to follow it into the intricate maze of bushes beyond it known as the labyrinth.”
“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path.”
“The essential facts are simply whether the labyrinth is cooled or warmed and what the position of the head is when the process takes place.”
“Our immigration law labyrinth is not only a factor in illegal immigration, it adversely affects our ability to bring the world’s “best and the brightest” to America.”
“Pan’s labyrinth is the opposite of a Hollywood movie: fantasy doesn’t save you or let you escape in a comforting world.”
“One woman called the labyrinth her "prayer village.”
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