\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for abyss


abysm, chasm, deep, gulf, ocean

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Heavier pieces such as the boilers dropped straight down, while other pieces were flung off into the abyss. National Geographic, "How the Titanic was lost and found," 22 Aug. 2019 Participants must first have permission from their bosses—this isn’t about quitting your job and jumping into the abyss. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "Take a Sabbatical to Help America’s National Parks," 17 Sep. 2019 After making the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons under first-year coach Steve Clifford, the Magic simply could not afford to sink back into the abyss of irrelevance next season. Mike Bianchi, orlandosentinel.com, "Hallelujah! Magic’s best free agents — Vooch and T-Ross — actually chose to stay in Orlando | Commentary," 1 July 2019 Finally, a recent poll of Americans reveals a veritable abyss between younger and older Americans. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Ghosts of World War II," 5 Sep. 2019 Finally, a recent poll of Americans reveals a veritable abyss between younger and older Americans. Victor Davis Hanson, The Mercury News, "Hanson: The ghosts of World War II," 5 Sep. 2019 The large, two-tiered table is spread with dishes rather than maps of the abyss, salvaged portholes give a glimpse of the outside, and the walls have all been hand-painted by artist Brian Farrell. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "This East Village Restaurant Will Transport You to the Mediterranean," 25 June 2019 Those office cupcakes that appeared out of the abyss can be a delicious and spontaneous snack. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Here's What a Healthy Snack Actually Looks Like," 26 Aug. 2019 The United States has pushed itself and the rest of the world into probably the brink of an abyss. Washington Post, "American warship destroys Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz," 19 July 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about abyss

Dictionary Entries near abyss







abyssal hill

Statistics for abyss

Last Updated

13 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for abyss

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 bell tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!