membranous labyrinth Unabridged


an intricate combination of paths or passages in which it is difficult to find one's way or to reach the exit. maze, network, web.
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.
a complicated or tortuous arrangement, as of streets or buildings. warren, maze, jungle, snarl, tangle, knot.
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. wilderness, jungle, forest; morass.
(initial capital letter) Classical Mythology. a vast maze built in Crete by Daedalus, at the command of King Minos, to house the Minotaur.
the internal ear, consisting of a bony portion (bony labyrinth) and a membranous portion (membranous labyrinth)
the aggregate of air chambers in the ethmoid bone, between the eye and the upper part of the nose.
a mazelike pattern inlaid in the pavement of a church.
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.

1540–50; < Latin labyrinthus < Greek labýrinthos; replacing earlier laborynt < Medieval Latin laborintus, Latin, as above Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
labyrinth (ˈlæbərɪnθ)
1.  Compare maze a mazelike network of tunnels, chambers, or paths, either natural or man-made
2.  any complex or confusing system of streets, passages, etc
3.  a complex or intricate situation
4.  a.  any system of interconnecting cavities, esp those comprising the internal ear
 b.  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
[C16: via Latin from Greek laburinthos, of obscure origin]

Labyrinth (ˈlæbərɪnθ)
Greek myth a huge maze constructed for King Minos in Crete by Daedalus to contain the Minotaur

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., from L. labyrinthus, from Gk. labyrinthos "maze, large building with intricate passages," especially the structure built to hold the Minotaur, from a pre-Gk. 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). Related: Labyrinthine.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

labyrinth lab·y·rinth (lāb'ə-rĭnth')

  1. A group of complex interconnecting anatomical cavities.

  2. See inner ear.

membranous labyrinth n.
The group of fluid-filled membranous sacs of the inner ear that are associated with the senses of hearing and balance.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
labyrinth   (lāb'ə-rĭnth')  Pronunciation Key 
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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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

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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