Definitions

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

  • noun An immeasurably deep chasm, depth, or void.
  • noun In the book of Genesis, the primeval Chaos out of which earth and sky were formed.
  • noun The abode of evil spirits; hell.

from The Century Dictionary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • noun 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– + bussos, bottom.]

Examples

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

    December 14, 2006

  • A loanword from Ancient Mesopotamia (Sumerian language).

    January 31, 2008

  • "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