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[uh-bis] /əˈbɪs/
a deep, immeasurable space, gulf, or cavity; vast chasm.
anything profound, unfathomable, or infinite:
the abyss of time.
  1. the primal chaos before Creation.
  2. the infernal regions; hell.
  3. a subterranean ocean.
Origin of abyss
1350-1400; earlier abisse, Middle English abissus < Late Latin abyssus < Greek ábyssos bottomless, equivalent to a- a-6 + byssós bottom of the sea

Abyss. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for abyss
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The thought of her was life and death in his frame, bright heaven and the abyss.

  • Do you know to what an abyss I was dragging you, poor angel?

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • Well for me it was not the abyss which yawns at the end of Pillar Hall.

    A Month in Yorkshire Walter White
  • The life they had nourished was dropping into the abyss out of ken—they remained.

    Robert Elsmere Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • In its palmy days people were only speculating upon the borders of an abyss which had not yet opened visibly before them.

    The Women of the French Salons Amelia Gere Mason
British Dictionary definitions for abyss


a very deep or unfathomable gorge or chasm
anything that appears to be endless or immeasurably deep, such as time, despair, or shame
hell or the infernal regions conceived of as a bottomless pit
Word Origin
C16: via Late Latin from Greek abussos bottomless (as in the phrase abussos limnē bottomless lake), from a-1 + bussos depth
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 abyss

late 14c., earlier abime (c.1300, from a form in Old French), from Late Latin abyssus "bottomless pit," from Greek abyssos (limne) "bottomless (pool)," from a- "without" (see a- (2)) + byssos "bottom," possibly related to bathos "depth."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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