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[uh-biz-uh m] /əˈbɪz əm/
an abyss.
Origin of abysm
1250-1300; Middle English abi(s)me < Middle French abisme < Vulgar Latin *abyssimus, a neologistic pseudo-superlative of Late Latin abyssus abyss Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for abysm
Historical Examples
  • I believe that the hour comes when the knell of kings is to peal; that an evil genius pushes monarchy unto the abysm.

    The Hero of the People Alexandre Dumas
  • His voice dropped, and he seemed to drop too, into some abysm of thought.

    Balcony Stories Grace E. King
  • I've been exploring the dark backwards and abysm of the Bronx—afoot.

    The Destroying Angel Louis Joseph Vance
  • "Four years," said Andrew looking into the dark backward and abysm of time.

    The Mountebank William J. Locke
  • The flooring of these colossal garrets has crevices in it through which one can look down into the abysm, the church, below.

  • It is easy to see how such conditions profoundly limit the development of organic being in the abysm of the ocean.

    Outlines of the Earth's History Nathaniel Southgate Shaler
  • Phil and I had been classmates in the dark backward and abysm, and we were still, in a manner of speaking, friends.

    The Book of Susan Lee Wilson Dodd
  • This makes their date one of incalculable antiquity; they are removed from us by a ‘dark backward and abysm of time.’

    Custom and Myth Andrew Lang
  • Cf. “Tempest,” i, 2, 50: “In the dark backward and abysm of time.”

  • I shall never count an iota against you "in the dark backward and abysm of Time."

British Dictionary definitions for abysm


an archaic word for abyss
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Medieval Latin abysmusabyss
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 abysm

"bottomless gulf, greatest depths," now chiefly poetic, c.1300, from Old French abisme (Modern French abîme), from Vulgar Latin *abyssimus (source of Spanish and Portuguese abismo), which represents either a superlative of Latin abyssus or a formation on analogy of Greek-derived words in -ismus; see abyss.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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