\ 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


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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 The net under Alabama is the federal judiciary, and the net prevents Alabama from pushing its weakest and most vulnerable into an abyss of meanness and hate. al, 3 May 2022 The crushing right orbital fracture suffered by MVP favorite Joel Embiid sent the Philadelphia 76ers’ odds to win the NBA title crashing to the abyss. Lance Pugmire, USA TODAY, 1 May 2022 With each expedition to the abyss come astonishing discoveries — ghost octopuses,gummy squirrels and evidence that whales dive miles to the ocean floor. Todd Woody, Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 2022 But banishing the devil came with a price, which is apparent as the world stares into the abyss of human ruin in Ukraine. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, 13 Apr. 2022 Here a golden ladder stretches up into the abyss of ultimate mystery. Robert Pogue Harrison, The New York Review of Books, 12 Mar. 2020 Xi Jinping has also miscalculated by putting his full prestige behind the Russian alliance just as Mr. Putin stepped into the abyss. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 17 Mar. 2022 The effort was too much and the young animal succumbed to fate, sliding down the snow into the abyss. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, 6 Mar. 2022 As The Microphones, Phil Elverum is no stranger to gazing into the abyss of mortality. Washington Post, 2 Mar. 2022 See More

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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Time Traveler for abyss

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

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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Abyss.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abyss. Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on abyss

Nglish: Translation of abyss for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abyss for Arabic Speakers


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