\ ə-ˈbis How to pronounce abyss (audio) , 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

Instead, Stanley Kubrick’s freakishly controlled, symphonically intense visions of human folly imagined a universe designed for grim laughter at the edge of an abyss. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "'Filmworker': A life lived in thrall to Stanley Kubrick," 31 May 2018 Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling star in the film, which feels like an angry, exhilarating, mad dash right off the edge of a cliff and into an abyss. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "5 movies that explain what caused the financial crisis, and what happened after," 14 Sep. 2018 The map of Charon shows an even more dramatic range of features, with even higher peaks countered by an abyss deeper than the lowest point on Earth. Meghan Bartels, Space.com, "Pluto and Charon Shine in Most Detailed Topographical Maps Ever," 12 July 2018 Though employment rates have been climbing back from the abyss, young men never caught up again. Jeanna Smialek, The Seattle Times, "Millennial men leave perplexing hole in hot US job market," 20 Nov. 2018 Manager Buck Showalter sees the fact that some faces might change, combined with the simple law of averages bringing some of their strugglers back from the abyss, as a reason to look forward with hope for improvement. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles' 58-loss first half on pace with the worst teams in modern baseball," 30 June 2018 James has dragged the weakest Cavaliers team yet to this year’s showdown with the Warriors, and now it is perched at the edge of defeat’s abyss, down three games to none. Michael Powell, New York Times, "LeBron James Delivered. Now Does He Exit?," 7 June 2018 Nazaré Canyon, the underwater abyss, is 130 miles long and as deep as 16,000 feet below the ocean’s surface in some areas. Elaina Zachos, National Geographic, "See What It's Like to Ride the Tallest Wave Ever Surfed," 30 Apr. 2018 The characters are compelling: Is the president a maniacal protectionist, ready to plunge the world into the abyss of a trade war – or a shrewd negotiator who uses unpredictability to keep his opponents off-balance? Michael Holtz, The Christian Science Monitor, "US versus China: How a tussle for advantage fuels risk of a trade war," 12 Apr. 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

12 May 2019

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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 How to pronounce abyss (audio) \

Kids Definition of abyss

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on abyss

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abyss

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abyss

Spanish Central: Translation of abyss

Nglish: Translation of abyss for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abyss for Arabic Speakers

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).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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