guided them through the labyrinths of city life—Paul Blanshard
: a tortuous anatomical structure
especially: the internal ear or its bony or membranous part
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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.
a complex labyrinth of tunnels and chambers
The cockpit was a labyrinth of instruments and controls.
a labyrinth of social customs and rules
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These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'labyrinth.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Middle English laborintus, from Latin labyrinthus, from Greek labyrinthos