\ 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 But large chains would be left staring into the abyss, inverting the 21st-century entertainment industry narrative that favors large corporate players. Washington Post, "For movie theaters, the coronavirus stimulus bill is a tale of two industries," 24 Dec. 2020 The Lions have been afloat in the NFL abyss for far too long, putzing their way through mediocrity and never doing enough to chase greatness. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Even in misery, we found 5 things Detroit Lions can be thankful for," 23 Nov. 2020 Frost assumed his position and the mighty crack from the cable release hurled the X-1 into the abyss. Chuck Yeager, Popular Mechanics, "How the Late Flying Legend Chuck Yeager Broke the Sound Barrier," 8 Dec. 2020 Instead, most are treading water or sinking into an abyss. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "How TV shows are handling COVID stories: The good, the bad and the just plain sad," 2 Dec. 2020 One date would randomly appear without warning on my screen while the other would disappear into an abyss. Yonit Kovnator, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. Affairs: Our first date was over when he refused to pull up his face mask," 14 Nov. 2020 Despite the harsh, pitch-black, frigid conditions of the abyss, an abundance of sea critters still manage to thrive there, leaving scientists curious about what exactly lurks below the surface. Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, "Scientists Collect Floating Bits of DNA to Study Deep Sea Creatures," 9 Nov. 2020 Covid has turned the Row’s challenges into a brush with the abyss. David Segal, New York Times, "To Survive the Pandemic, Savile Row Cuts a Bespoke Strategy," 15 Nov. 2020 The ghoul drifts through the abyss at a towering ten feet in length, with 15 tentacles, each covered in 5,000 stinging cells that deliver a fatal shock. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, "14 Fun Facts About Frightening Animals," 30 Oct. 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for abyss

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Abyss.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abyss. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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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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