od·ys·sey | \ˈä-də-sē \
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Now two very different couples face a nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships. Matthew J. Palm, OrlandoSentinel.com, "New Pegasus PlayLab theater festival brings new works to UCF," 7 June 2018 The pop odyssey, which features over 100 local performers, is hilarious at times and touching at others, all while illustrating just how diverse our nation’s story is. Bethany Ao, Philly.com, "I went up 50 feet in the air over the Schuylkill to ride PIFA's 'human chandelier'," 31 May 2018 Cass Plott said, beginning the odyssey of pharmaceuticals. Anne Saker, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati tested the marijuana drug that the FDA has just approved," 27 June 2018 The odyssey to help Danny and Lupe is heaping financial and logistical strain on Ms. Serrano, an American of Colombian descent who grew up in Michigan, and her husband, Elmer, a permanent U.S. resident who immigrated from Honduras. Jennifer Levitz, WSJ, "After Border Separation, Family Tries to Get Nephew Out of Foster Care," 22 June 2018 The odyssey of Marco Trungelliti—the lucky loser who rented a van, put Grandma in the backseat and trekked from Barcelona to Paris on a moment’s notice—made for a fun early tournament story. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "50 Parting Thoughts From Roland Garros 2018," 10 June 2018 The first episode covers the legal odyssey of Meek Mill, whose release from prison was ordered on Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Jay Willis, GQ, "Why Was Meek Mill in Jail? DeRay Mckesson Explains," 25 Apr. 2018 And when the Fabs were finally history, what got Paul out of bed (or a stupor) was recording weird, homey songs alone with his new photographer bride without any pressure to live up to the Beatles’ mind-bending psychedelic odysseys. Morgan Enos, Billboard, "Remembering Linda McCartney With 7 Underappreciated Songs," 20 Apr. 2018 That began a 10-day odyssey that gripped the European nation. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "These dramatic rescues boost hope for boys trapped in water-logged Thailand cave," 4 July 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about odyssey

Dictionary Entries near odyssey








Statistics for odyssey

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for odyssey

The first known use of odyssey was in 1886

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for odyssey



English Language Learners Definition of odyssey

: a long journey full of adventures

: a series of experiences that give knowledge or understanding to someone

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on odyssey

Spanish Central: Translation of odyssey

Nglish: Translation of odyssey for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of odyssey for Arabic Speakers

Comments on odyssey

What made you want to look up odyssey? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!