od·​ys·​sey | \ ˈä-də-sē How to pronounce odyssey (audio) \
plural odysseys

Definition of odyssey

1 : a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune his odyssey from rural South to urban North, from poverty to affluence, from Afro-American folk culture to a Eurocentric world of books— J. E. Wideman
2 : an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest an odyssey of self-discovery a spiritual odyssey from disbelief to faith

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Did You Know?

Odysseus, the hero of Homer's Odyssey, spends 20 years traveling home from the Trojan War. He has astonishing adventures and learns a great deal about himself and the world; he even descends to the underworld to talk to the dead. Thus, an odyssey is any long, complicated journey, often a quest for a goal, and may be a spiritual or psychological journey as well as an actual voyage.

Examples of odyssey in a Sentence

The story is about the emotional odyssey experienced by a teenage girl. the spiritual odyssey of the deeply religious
Recent Examples on the Web For now, the steps being take a Caesars Palace are among the first in an odyssey towards a new casino culture, one its leaders believe will retain the spirit of Las Vegas. Kim Berryman, CNN, "Preparing the palace: How an iconic Las Vegas casino plans to conquer Covid-19," 15 May 2020 Holley’s military odyssey began during World War II. Mark Woolsey, ajc, "Henry Holley, 92, organized Billy Graham’s crusades," 11 May 2020 The film follows a 17-year-old girl on an odyssey from Pennsylvania to New York in the hopes of terminating her pregnancy. Soraya Roberts, Longreads, "My Body Is Not a Temple," 16 Apr. 2020 Forty-six years ago today, on Feb. 4, 1974, Hearst’s strange criminal odyssey began when she was kidnapped by a collection of misfits calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. oregonlive, "Patty Hearst kidnapped 46 years ago today; strange, violent case still holds public’s attention," 4 Feb. 2020 Uncut Gems, an intricate odyssey that moves fast and takes hairpin turns, is a more ambitious picture, though perhaps not a better one. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Uncut Gems Works Too Hard for Its Grit. But It's Hard to Look Away From Adam Sandler," 13 Dec. 2019 Accompanying her through this dizzying odyssey is Gary, a musician who once opened for Aerosmith (early successes are a marital motif here) and is now a part-time snackologist supplying food to a WeWork-like company. New York Times, "Don’t Mind Me While I Wear My Dog," 3 Mar. 2020 The 1,900-mile odyssey nearly killed him, with crowds out of control, constant pressure to give speeches, and a serious plot to kill him in Baltimore. Ted Widmer, Time, "How Lincoln Managed America's Governors to Become a Great National Leader," 17 Apr. 2020 But he wasn't drafted, sending him off on a basketball odyssey. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "Legend of Schea Cotton lives on with former NBA stars," 13 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'odyssey.' 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 odyssey

1886, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for odyssey

the Odyssey, epic poem attributed to Homer recounting the long wanderings of Odysseus

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Time Traveler for odyssey

Time Traveler

The first known use of odyssey was in 1886

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Statistics for odyssey

Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Odyssey.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/odyssey. Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for odyssey


How to pronounce odyssey (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of odyssey

literary : a long journey full of adventures
: a series of experiences that give knowledge or understanding to someone

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More from Merriam-Webster on odyssey

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for odyssey

Spanish Central: Translation of odyssey

Nglish: Translation of odyssey for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of odyssey for Arabic Speakers

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