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

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

The three-week cycling odyssey then winds through the French mountains, farmlands and villages and ends with its victory lap in Paris on July 28. Ed Brackett, USA TODAY, "USWNT vs. Netherlands, Southern California earthquake, Essence Fest: 5 things to know this weekend," 6 July 2019 The odyssey began just before noon last Sunday, when McDaniel finished his final round at the U.S. Open. Alex Putterman, courant.com, "Monday qualifier Chip McDaniel seizing opportunity at Travelers after red-eye flight, timely McDonald’s run," 20 June 2019 After the cinematic space odyssey, partygoers made their way to what could only be described as a superhero hideout. Lauren Sanchez, Vogue, "Brie Larson Exhibited All Kinds of Girl Power at Captain Marvel's Adrenaline-Fueled New York City Premiere," 8 Mar. 2019 In Whitehead’s hands the runaway’s all-American story—grit, struggle, reward—becomes instead a grim Voltairean odyssey, a subterranean journey through the uncharted epochs of unfreedom. The New York Review of Books, "Julian Lucas," 21 Feb. 2019 For many of those seeking a new life, the odyssey begins here, on the 70-odd clandestine trails along Villa del Rosario’s 22-mile-mile border with Venezuela. Juan Forero |, WSJ, "Colombia Struggles to Control Border Overrun by Desperate Venezuelans," 20 Sep. 2018 The other principal role, of course, is that of Jim, the runaway slave who joins Huck on his down-river odyssey. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: 35 years ago ‘Big River’ started flowing in La Jolla," 25 June 2019 In Woodland’s case, the poignancy rested in his odyssey to become a dad. Ron Kroichick, SFChronicle.com, "Gary Woodland comes up big on Father’s Day, wins U.S. Open at Pebble Beach," 16 June 2019 The odyssey preceding the Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in Matal v. Tam is, certainly, the draw of Tam’s memoir. Nathan Rizzo | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive.com, "‘Slanted’ tells the story of Portland Asian American band’s fight to keep its name," 9 June 2019

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

18 Jul 2019

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

literary : 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

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

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).


characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

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


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!