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

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Synonyms for labyrinth

Synonyms

maze, rabbit warren, warren

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

His house is a labyrinth of small rooms filled with his collections of ancient antiquities and British art. Emily Selter, Town & Country, "London Travel Guide: The Best Things to Do, See, Eat, and More," 7 Aug. 2018 The labyrinth is definitely the standout feature, a maze made of elaborate swirls of thick foliage. Gemma Askham, Condé Nast Traveler, "20 Best Things to Do in Barcelona," 3 Mar. 2018 Hoz described the sewage pipe system as a disorienting labyrinth. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Boy, 13, found alive after falling into Los Angeles drainage ditch 'maze'," 2 Oct. 2018 However, the real world is a labyrinth of obstructions: thick walls, metal frames, competing signals, distant cell towers, and whole skyscrapers stand in our way. Kim Komando, Fox News, "3 smart ways to boost cell signals inside your home," 19 Aug. 2018 In the Milwaukee Maze, visitors pay $5 to walk their way through a labyrinth of wooden panels mounted to a wooden, box-like framework. Jane Ford-stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Driven from West Allis by vandals, the Milwaukee Maze has two potential new locations," 2 July 2018 Much of Dubrovnik's appeal lies in (happily) getting lost in its labyrinth of pathways. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "Soludos Founder Nick Brown on Why He Keeps Returning to Croatia," 22 Aug. 2018 In that instant, the cave turned from a fun place to seek new things into a claustrophobic and confusing labyrinth. Chris Peterman, Ars Technica, "Risky Thailand cave rescue relied on talent, luck—and on sticking to the rules," 22 July 2018 Pursuing that line of inquiry leads to some sticky deliberations in the Escher-style labyrinth that is the MPAA’s standard operating practice. Charles Bramesco, Vox, "Eighth Grade’s R rating deters actual 8th graders from seeing it. What a shame.," 18 July 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for labyrinth

Last Updated

3 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for labyrinth

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

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More Definitions for labyrinth

labyrinth

noun

English Language Learners Definition of labyrinth

: a place that has many confusing paths or passages
: something that is extremely complicated or difficult to understand

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

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