Definitions

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

  • noun An intricate structure of interconnecting passages through which it is difficult to find one's way; a maze.
  • noun Greek Mythology The maze in which the Minotaur was confined.
  • noun Something highly intricate or convoluted in character, composition, or construction.
  • noun A group of complex interconnecting anatomical cavities.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun Any confused complication of objects, lines, ideas, etc.; any thing or subject characterized by intricate turnings or windings; a perplexity.
  • noun The internal ear; the essential organ of hearing.
  • noun In ornithology, same as tympanum, 2
  • noun .—5. In mining, an apparatus used in concentrating or dressing slimes.
  • noun 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.

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

  • noun An edifice or place full of intricate passageways which render it difficult to find the way from the interior to the entrance.
  • noun Any intricate or involved inclosure; especially, an ornamental maze or inclosure in a park or garden, having high hedges separating confusingly convoluted passages.
  • noun Any object or arrangement of an intricate or involved form, or having a very complicated nature.
  • noun An inextricable or bewildering difficulty.
  • noun (Anat.) The internal ear. See Note under Ear.
  • noun (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.
  • noun (Arch.) A pattern or design representing a maze, -- often inlaid in the tiled floor of a church, etc.

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

  • noun A maze, especially underground or covered.
  • noun Part of the inner ear.
  • noun figuratively Anything complicated and confusing, like a maze.
  • verb To enclose in a labyrinth, or as though in a labyrinth.
  • verb To arrange in the form of a labyrinth.

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

  • noun a complex system of interconnecting cavities; concerned with hearing and equilibrium
  • noun complex system of paths or tunnels in which it is easy to get lost

Etymologies

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

[Middle English laberinthe, from Latin labyrinthus, from Greek laburinthos; possibly akin to labrus, double-headed ax (used as a ritual weapon and a sign of authority in Minoan civilization, so that Greek laburinthos, may originally have designated a Minoan palace as “the house of the double-headed ax”), of Lydian origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

Examples

  • 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.

    Camilla

  • Finding the entrance to the labyrinth is not the simplest of steps, for I find myself separated from it by another labyrinth.

    Commonplace: How am I to lose myself once again among the stones of Aran?

  • Finding the entrance to the labyrinth is not the simplest of steps, for I find myself separated from it by another labyrinth.

    A Different Stripe:

  • "Pensioner 'entomed in labyrinth of tunnels carved into rubbish'" (Thanks, Robert Pescovitz!)

    Boing Boing

  • Finding the entrance to the labyrinth is not the simplest of steps, for I find myself separated from it by another labyrinth.

    Commonplace

  • 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.

    Walking a Literary Labyrinth

  • 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.

    Aphrodite the Beauty

  • 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.

    Aphrodite the Beauty

  • 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.

    Artemis the Brave

  • 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.

    Walking a Literary Labyrinth

Comments

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  • This word always makes me think of the minotaur.

    And the ridiculous/excellent movie - David Bowie in tights anyone?

    July 5, 2007

  • 'How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?' reportedly Simon Bolivar's last words.

    February 19, 2008

  • I was recently happy to discover that there are a few of these in the bay area where I live! Must plan a day of labyrinth walking soon.

    labyrinth at Grace Cathedral Church

    labyrinths at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

    March 6, 2008