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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.
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 abscesses
  • The pus from the liver abscesses was filled with the pyogenic vibrio.
  • The inflammation continued several weeks, and at length terminated in the formation of three or four small abscesses.
  • abscesses occur when an area of tissue becomes infected and the body's immune system tries to fight it.
  • Occasionally, abscesses cannot be safely drained this way.
  • Radioactive abscess scan uses a radioactive substance to look for abscesses in the body.
  • abscesses need to be drained, either as an office procedure or with surgery.
  • Brain abscesses commonly occur when bacteria or fungi infect part of the brain.
  • There are no fistulas, abscesses, or other chronic changes.
  • Problems with fistulas and abscesses may occur after surgeries.
  • These cysts may occasionally become infected and form painful abscesses.
British Dictionary definitions for abscesses


/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 abscesses



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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abscesses 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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abscesses 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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abscesses 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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