noun abey·ance \ə-ˈbā-ən(t)s\

Definition of abeyance

  1. 1 :  a state of temporary inactivity :  suspension —used chiefly in the phrase in abeyance … new contracts on all but one existing mine … are in abeyance pending the outcome of a government inquiry to be carried out into Australia's role in the nuclear fuel cycle. — Vimala Sarma a plan that is currently being held in abeyance

  2. 2 :  a lapse in succession during which there is no person in whom a title is vested an estate in abeyance


play \-ənt\ adjective

abeyance was our Word of the Day on 03/01/2012. Hear the podcast!

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 and Etymology of abeyance

borrowed from Anglo-French abeyaunce “absence of a claimant or owner, lapse in succession,” from abaer, abair “to open wide” (from a-, prefix in transitive verbs—from Latin ad- ad- — + baer, baier “to have the mouth wide open, gape, pant,” from Vulgar Latin *batāre, perhaps of imitative origin) + -ance -ance

First Known Use: 1556

Medical Dictionary


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


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 and Etymology 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

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a trip made at another's expense

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