labyrinth

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noun lab·y·rinth \ ˈla-bə-ˌrin(t)th , -rən(t)th \
Updated on: 11 Sep 2017

Definition of labyrinth

1 a :a place constructed of or full of intricate passageways and blind alleys
  • a complex labyrinth of tunnels and chambers
b :a maze (as in a garden) formed by paths separated by high hedges
2 :something extremely complex or tortuous (see tortuous 1) in structure, arrangement, or character :intricacy, perplexity
  • a labyrinth of swamps and channels
  • guided them through the labyrinths of city life
  • —Paul Blanshard
3 :a tortuous anatomical structure; especially :the internal ear or its bony or membranous part

Examples of labyrinth in a Sentence

  1. a complex labyrinth of tunnels and chambers

  2. The cockpit was a labyrinth of instruments and controls.

  3. a labyrinth of social customs and rules

Recent Examples of labyrinth from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'labyrinth.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Is there a difference between maze and labyrinth?

Is there a difference between the words maze and labyrinth? Not so much; both words are used in reference to confusing networks of passages or channels, or for a thing that is complicated or confusingly elaborate. However, in origin the two words are quite different. Maze is presumed to come from an unrecorded Old English word masian (“to confuse”), whereas labyrinth has a more classical pedigree.

Ancient Greek legends tell of King Minos of Crete, who had the inventor Daedalus create a labyrinth beneath his palace in which was housed the Minotaur, a fearsome monster with the head of a bull and body of a man. The Minotaur was said to have been slain by the Greek hero Theseus, who then managed to find his way out of the labyrinth with the aid of a ball of thread that had been given to him by Ariadne, the daughter of Minos.

Origin and Etymology of labyrinth

Middle English laborintus, from Latin labyrinthus, from Greek labyrinthos

Other Architecture Terms


LABYRINTH Defined for English Language Learners

labyrinth

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noun

Definition of labyrinth for English Language Learners

  • : a place that has many confusing paths or passages

  • : something that is extremely complicated or difficult to understand


LABYRINTH Defined for Kids

labyrinth

play
noun lab·y·rinth \ ˈla-bə-ˌrinth \

Definition of labyrinth for Students

:a place that has many confusing paths and passages

Medical Dictionary

labyrinth

play
noun lab·y·rinth \ ˈlab-ə-ˌrin(t)th, -rən(t)th \

medical Definition of labyrinth

:a tortuous anatomical structure; especially :the inner ear or its bony or membranous part — see bony labyrinth, membranous labyrinth


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