bys·​sus ˈbi-səs How to pronounce byssus (audio)
plural byssuses or byssi ˈbi-ˌsī How to pronounce byssus (audio)
: a fine probably linen cloth of ancient times
[New Latin, from Latin] : a tuft of long tough filaments by which some bivalve mollusks (such as mussels) adhere to a surface

Examples of byssus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Eliminate the incrustations and the byssus, if present, wash them very well under running water. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, 23 Dec. 2022 The granules consist of iron and a protein called mfp-1, heavily linked to one other - this makes the byssus hard. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 5 Mar. 2010 Then comes the slightly tedious task, which is pulling off the byssus, or beard, a small length of what looks like black threads twisted together. Washington Post, 29 Oct. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'byssus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English bissus, from Latin byssus, from Greek byssos flax, of Semitic origin; akin to Hebrew būṣ linen cloth

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of byssus was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near byssus

Cite this Entry

“Byssus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

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