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labyrinth

[lab-uh-rinth] /ˈlæb ə rɪnθ/
noun
1.
an intricate combination of paths or passages in which it is difficult to find one's way or to reach the exit.
Synonyms: maze, network, web.
2.
a maze of paths bordered by high hedges, as in a park or garden, for the amusement of those who search for a way out.
3.
a complicated or tortuous arrangement, as of streets or buildings.
Synonyms: warren, maze, jungle, snarl, tangle, knot.
4.
any confusingly intricate state of things or events; a bewildering complex: His papers were lost in an hellish bureaucratic labyrinth.
After the death of her daughter, she wandered in a labyrinth of sorrow for what seemed like a decade.
5.
(initial capital letter) Classical Mythology. a vast maze built in Crete by Daedalus, at the command of King Minos, to house the Minotaur.
6.
Anatomy.
  1. the internal ear, consisting of a bony portion (bony labyrinth) and a membranous portion (membranous labyrinth)
  2. the aggregate of air chambers in the ethmoid bone, between the eye and the upper part of the nose.
7.
a mazelike pattern inlaid in the pavement of a church.
8.
Also called acoustic labyrinth, acoustical labyrinth. Audio. a loudspeaker enclosure with air chambers at the rear for absorbing sound waves radiating in one direction so as to prevent their interference with waves radiated in another direction.
Origin
1540-1550
1540-50; < Latin labyrinthus < Greek labýrinthos; replacing earlier laborynt < Medieval Latin laborintus, Latin, as above
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for labyrinths
  • It's not an easy environment to access and many explorers have perished attempting to map these subterranean labyrinths.
  • It's fun to wander through these synthetic labyrinths, shopping bags in hand.
  • At birth, the bone consists of the two labyrinths, which are small and ill-developed.
  • There is no royal road to guide us through its labyrinths.
  • Your guide can escort you carefully through the rocky labyrinths and teach you the technical skills you need.
  • The complex has a series of ramparts, temples, amphitheaters and labyrinths.
  • Tourists can't book a special tour of the cats' labyrinths.
  • Protected by sheer cliffs, narrow labyrinths and underwater entrances, many of the caves have not been explored for decades.
  • Such procedural traps and labyrinths are particularly challenging for the country's many illiterate and mentally ill inmates.
  • Mollusks drag their shells of pearly luster along the submarine labyrinths.
British Dictionary definitions for labyrinths

labyrinth

/ˈlæbərɪnθ/
noun
1.
a mazelike network of tunnels, chambers, or paths, either natural or man-made Compare maze (sense 1)
2.
any complex or confusing system of streets, passages, etc
3.
a complex or intricate situation
4.
  1. any system of interconnecting cavities, esp those comprising the internal ear
  2. another name for internal ear
5.
(electronics) an enclosure behind a high-performance loudspeaker, consisting of a series of air chambers designed to absorb unwanted sound waves
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek laburinthos, of obscure origin

Labyrinth

/ˈlæbərɪnθ/
noun
1.
(Greek myth) a huge maze constructed for King Minos in Crete by Daedalus to contain the Minotaur
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 labyrinths

labyrinth

n.

c.1400, laberynthe (late 14c. in Latinate form laborintus) "labyrinth, maze," figuratively "bewildering arguments," from Latin labyrinthus, from Greek labyrinthos "maze, large building with intricate passages," especially the structure built by Daedelus to hold the Minotaur near Knossos in Crete, from a pre-Greek language; perhaps related to Lydian labrys "double-edged axe," symbol of royal power, which fits with the theory that the labyrinth was originally the royal Minoan palace on Crete and meant "palace of the double-axe." Used in English for "maze" early 15c., and in figurative sense of "confusing state of affairs" (1540s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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labyrinths in Medicine

labyrinth lab·y·rinth (lāb'ə-rĭnth')
n.

  1. A group of complex interconnecting anatomical cavities.

  2. See inner ear.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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labyrinths in Science
labyrinth
  (lāb'ə-rĭnth')   
The system of interconnecting canals and spaces that make up the inner ear of many vertebrates. The labyrinth has both a bony component, made up of the cochlea, the semicircular canals, and the vestibule, and a membranous one.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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labyrinths in Culture

Labyrinth definition


In classical mythology, a vast maze on the island of Crete. The great inventor Daedalus designed it, and the king of Crete kept the Minotaur in it. Very few people ever escaped from the Labyrinth. One was Theseus, the killer of the Minotaur.

Note: A labyrinth can be literally a maze or figuratively any highly intricate construction or problem.
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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