Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

abeyance

play
noun abey·ance \ə-ˈbā-ən(t)s\

Definition of abeyance

  1. 1 :  a lapse in succession during which there is no person in whom a title is vested

  2. 2 :  temporary inactivity :  suspension

abeyantplay \-ənt\ adjective


Examples of abeyance in a sentence

  1. <our weekend plans were held in abeyance until we could get a weather forecast>



Did You Know?

Abeyance has something in common with "yawn." Today, "yawn" implies sleep or boredom, but years ago it could also signify longing or desire ("Full many men know I that yawn and gape after some fat and rich benefice"-Thomas Hoccleve, 1420). The Old French word for "yawn" was "baer," which joined the prefix a- ("in a state or condition of") to form "abaer," a verb meaning "to expect" or "await." There followed Anglo-French abeyance, which referred to a state of expectation-specifically, a person's expectation of inheriting a title or property. But when we adopted "abeyance" into English in the 16th century, we applied the expectation to the property itself: a property or title "in abeyance" is in temporary limbo, waiting to be claimed by a rightful heir or owner.

Origin of abeyance

Anglo-French, from Old French abaer to expect, await, literally, to gape, from a- + baer to gape, yawn — more at BAY


First Known Use: 1640


Medical Dictionary

abeyance

play
noun abey·ance \ə-ˈbā-ən(t)s\

Medical Definition of abeyance

  1. :  temporary inactivity or suspension (as of function or a symptom)




Law Dictionary

abeyance

play
noun abey·ance \ə-ˈbā-əns\

Legal Definition of abeyance

  1. 1 :  a lapse in the succession of property during which there is no person in whom title to the property is vested —usually used with in <the estate was in abeyance>

  2. 2 :  temporary inactivity or suppression :  cessation or suspension for a period of time —usually used with in or into <to hold the entry of summary judgment in abeyance — J. H. Friedenthal et al.>



Origin of abeyance

Middle French abeance expectation (of a title or claimant), from abaer to expect, from a-, prefix stressing result + baer to gape, aim at




Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up abeyance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by propriety and good taste

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image567572573

Which of these is a synonym of unctuous?

angry oily prompt maudlin
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ