\ə-ˈbis, a- also ˈa-(ˌ)bis\

Definition of abyss 

1a : an immeasurably deep gulf or great space gazed down into the gaping abyss the ocean's abysses (figurative) a widening abyss between the rich and the poor

b : intellectual or moral depths an abyss of moral depravity an abyss of despair

2 : the bottomless gulf, pit, or chaos of the old cosmogonies

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Synonyms for abyss


abysm, chasm, deep, gulf, ocean

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Examples of abyss in a Sentence

looking down at the dark ocean from the ship's rail, the cruise passenger felt as though he was staring into an abyss

Recent Examples on the Web

Two years, one celebrated (if also maudlin) atonement album, and half a joint tour later, the first track of the Carters’ new collaborative album finds the couple once again submerged in the profitable abyss of their own love. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Do Beyoncé Fans Have to Forgive Jay-Z?," 18 June 2018 The Proposal seems to travel in the abyss of reality show concepts, with zero self-awareness about itself. Meagan Fredette, refinery29.com, "This Show From The Bachelor’s Creators May Be The ScariestThing You Watch All Summer," 28 May 2018 The accounts start to diverge as the film shows Houston falling into a dark abyss of drug abuse with Brown, and Macdonald simply lets the subjects state their truth. Katie Walsh, Detroit Free Press, "Review: Whitney Houston doc is raw and revealing," 5 July 2018 The beaming white bathroom offers plush robes and Guerlain toiletries and a cavernous bathtub that sinks down into a marble abyss. Natalie B. Compton, GQ, "The Best Way to Do Paris Is the Old Fashioned Way," 3 Apr. 2018 Obviously the world wide web is an infinitely deep, hellish abyss in which the basest impulses of humanity emerge under the cloak of anonymity—no one’s arguing that. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Donald Trump Jr. Should Probably Log Off Twitter," 27 June 2018 The point is that our politics just took another step toward the abyss. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "The GOP reaps its reward for selling its soul to Trump," 27 June 2018 My forays into the abyss of retail seemed to happen without my noticing, like the onset of a yawn. Hayley Phelan, WSJ, "Lessons From a Six-Month Shopping Detox," 26 June 2018 The most democratic of sporting events begins Thursday at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on the eastern abyss of Long Island, N.Y. Got $200 to enter and and a handicap of 1.4 or better? Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Paul Daugherty: Mariemont grad Will Grimmer all grown up for this U.S. Open," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abyss.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of abyss

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for abyss

borrowed from Late Latin abyssus, borrowed from Greek ábyssos "bottomless, unfathomable, (as noun) bottomless gulf," from a- a- entry 2 + byssós "depth of the sea," probably going back to *byth-yos, derivative of bythós "depth, deepest part, bottom," probably of pre-Greek substratal origin

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Dictionary Entries near abyss







abyssal hill

Statistics for abyss

Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for abyss

The first known use of abyss was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for abyss


\ə-ˈbis \

Kids Definition of abyss

: a gulf so deep or space so great that it cannot be measured

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Comments on abyss

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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