labyrinth

noun
lab·​y·​rinth | \ ˈla-bə-ˌrin(t)th How to pronounce labyrinth (audio) , -rən(t)th \

Definition of labyrinth

1a : 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 sense 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

Synonyms for labyrinth

Synonyms

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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.

Examples of labyrinth in a Sentence

a complex labyrinth of tunnels and chambers The cockpit was a labyrinth of instruments and controls. a labyrinth of social customs and rules
Recent Examples on the Web Lipa then leads our cameras through a labyrinth of basements, corridors, and dressing rooms. Ian Malone, Vogue, 10 May 2022 Several thousand Ukrainian troops, by the Russians' estimate, remained in the plant and its labyrinth of tunnels and bunkers spread out across about 4 square miles. Arkansas Online, 21 Apr. 2022 A few thousand Ukrainian troops, by the Russians’ estimate, remained in the plant and its labyrinth of tunnels and bunkers spread out across about 11 square kilometers (4 square miles). Adam Schreck, chicagotribune.com, 20 Apr. 2022 Transitions don’t bode well for the complex U.S. health care system, with its mix of private and government insurance and its labyrinth of policies and procedures. Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Apr. 2022 Everywhere else Among the other locations people recommended were the backyard at Zeitgeist, the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral, Aquatic Park and driving across the Bay Bridge toward Oakland. @GalaxyKate suggested the bathroom at the Tonga Room. Vanessa Arredondo, San Francisco Chronicle, 13 Apr. 2022 For those who survive the labyrinth of predators, human development and fast-moving cars, an uncanny orgy awaits. Joanna Lentini, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Mar. 2022 Solomon, our guide, knew the labyrinth of alleyways like the back of his hand, and we were given a crash course on the history and culture of the city. Summer Rylander, Travel + Leisure, 20 Feb. 2022 Beyond the labyrinth of narrow streets of the center are the chimney stacks of housing developments that still puff coal and peat. Kara Fox, CNN, 23 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of labyrinth

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for labyrinth

Middle English laborintus, from Latin labyrinthus, from Greek labyrinthos

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Time Traveler for labyrinth

Time Traveler

The first known use of labyrinth was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near labyrinth

laburnum

labyrinth

labyrinthal

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Statistics for labyrinth

Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Labyrinth.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/labyrinth. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for labyrinth

labyrinth

noun
lab·​y·​rinth | \ ˈla-bə-ˌrinth How to pronounce labyrinth (audio) \

Kids Definition of labyrinth

: a place that has many confusing paths and passages

labyrinth

noun
lab·​y·​rinth | \ ˈlab-ə-ˌrin(t)th, -rən(t)th How to pronounce labyrinth (audio) \

Medical Definition of labyrinth

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

More from Merriam-Webster on labyrinth

Nglish: Translation of labyrinth for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of labyrinth for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about labyrinth

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