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[bis-uh s] /ˈbɪs əs/
noun, plural byssuses, byssi
[bis-ahy] /ˈbɪs aɪ/ (Show IPA)
Zoology. a collection of silky filaments by which certain mollusks attach themselves to rocks.
an ancient cloth, thought to be of linen, cotton, or silk.
Origin of byssus
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin < Greek býssos a fine cotton or linen < Semitic; compare Hebrew būts
Related forms
[bih-sey-shuh s] /bɪˈseɪ ʃəs/ (Show IPA),
byssoid, adjective
byssal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for byssus
Historical Examples
  • Flat, turned up at the sides, an hiatus for the passage of a byssus.

    A Conchological Manual George Brettingham Sowerby
  • In Crenatula also there is no passage for the byssus, as in Perna.

    A Conchological Manual George Brettingham Sowerby
  • The byssus is unknown to us, but the stuffs of Lyons are more valuable.

    A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 1 (of 10) Franois-Marie Arouet (AKA Voltaire)
  • The animals swim like Lima, as above, and also spin a byssus.

    Illustrated Index of British Shells George Brettingham Sowerby
  • It is found in great numbers attached to oysters by its byssus.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • In the ventral margin there is an opening for the accommodation of a byssus.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • In all these genera the foot is small, its retractile muscles numerous, and the byssus large.

    The Ocean World: Louis Figuier
  • A form of fungus known as byssus grows upon dead ova, and it is principally for this reason that they must be removed.

    Amateur Fish Culture Charles Edward Walker
  • The use of a byssus is for attachment to any object to effect a temporary or permanent lodgment.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • The accompanying cut shows Mytilus edulis, a common east-coast pelecypod, attached by its byssus to a piece of wood.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
British Dictionary definitions for byssus


noun (pl) byssuses, byssi (ˈbɪsaɪ)
a mass of strong threads secreted by a sea mussel or similar mollusc that attaches the animal to a hard fixed surface
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, from Greek bussos linen, flax, ultimately of Egyptian origin
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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