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[ab-ses] /ˈæb sɛs/
noun, Pathology
a localized collection of pus in the tissues of the body, often accompanied by swelling and inflammation and frequently caused by bacteria.
Origin of abscess
1535-45; < Latin abscessus a going away, abscess, equivalent to absced-, variant stem of abscēdere to go away, separate off, form an abscess (abs- abs- + cēdere; see cede) + -tus suffix of v. action, with -dt- > -ss-
Related forms
abscessed, adjective
unabscessed, adjective
Can be confused
abscess, obsess. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for abscess
  • IT may have perforated or broken through the omentum causing the acute pelvic abscess.
  • During the several weeks it took to run the tigress down, an abscess paralyzed his head and neck.
  • Radioactive abscess scan uses a radioactive substance to look for abscesses in the body.
  • He had an ultrasound of his neck as well to look for an abscess or clot in the vessels there.
  • Surgery is usually necessary to remove sources of infection such as an infected bowel, inflamed appendix, or abscess.
  • The diagnosis was an abscess caused by a parasitic infection, toxoplasmosis.
  • Cortisone had enlarged and distorted her face, the abscess on her elbow had burst, boils covered her backside.
  • After several hours she was sent home with a painkiller and an antibiotic to treat a presumed dental abscess.
  • But it quickly worsens into an abscess or pus-filled blister or sore and can become serious if it enters the bloodstream.
  • Mantle suffered an infection that necessitated surgery for the removal of an abscess on his right hip.
British Dictionary definitions for abscess


/ˈæbsɛs; -sɪs/
a localized collection of pus formed as the product of inflammation and usually caused by bacteria
(intransitive) to form such a collection of pus
Derived Forms
abscessed, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin abscessus a going away, a throwing off of bad humours, hence an abscess, from abscēdere to go away
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for abscess

1610s, from Latin abscessus "an abscess" (Celsus), literally "a going away," from stem of abscedere "withdraw," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + cedere "to go" (see cede). The notion is that humors "go from" the body through the pus in the swelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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abscess in Medicine

abscess ab·scess (āb'sěs')

  1. A collection of pus formed by tissue destruction in an inflamed area of a localized infection.

  2. A cavity that is formed by liquefactive necrosis within solid tissue.

v. ab·scessed, ab·scess·ing, ab·scess·es
To form an abscess.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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abscess in Science
A localized collection of pus surrounded by infected tissue.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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abscess in Culture
abscess [(ab-ses)]

An inflamed area (see inflammation) in the body tissues that is filled with pus.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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