\ ə-ˈbis How to pronounce abyss (audio) , a- also ˈa-(ˌ)bis \

Definition of abyss

1a : an immeasurably deep gulf or great space gazed down into the gaping abyss the ocean's abysses (figurative) a widening abyss between the rich and the poor
b : intellectual or moral depths an abyss of moral depravity an abyss of despair
2 : the bottomless gulf, pit, or chaos of the old cosmogonies

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Synonyms for abyss


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Examples of abyss in a Sentence

looking down at the dark ocean from the ship's rail, the cruise passenger felt as though he was staring into an abyss
Recent Examples on the Web Most locals now live in Bagnoregio, the town sitting across the canyon, while access to Civita itself — now just a nub of the original town, the rest having fallen into the abyss — is via a long, steep walkway. Julia Buckley, Travel + Leisure, 30 Sep. 2021 Seismometers pick up this information, and scientists use the data to try and work out what is hiding within that great abyss. Quanta Magazine, 15 Sep. 2021 Other issues pushed us closer to what felt like a real abyss. David Howard, Popular Mechanics, 11 Aug. 2021 From the abyss of an economy-stopping global pandemic, the U.S. real estate market has emerged as arguably the hottest market in the world. Margherita Beale, Forbes, 8 June 2021 Biolum thrusts you into the role of a diver in the ocean abyss which is invaded by extraterrestrial bioluminescent creatures. Chris Willman, Variety, 25 Aug. 2021 The project of grieving a friend is one of flinging pleas and promises and imprecations into the abyss, hoping against all hope to hear something other than the echo of your own voice. Merve Emre, The New Yorker, 23 Aug. 2021 As Afghanistan descends into the abyss, Iraq advances toward legitimacy at home and internationally. Paul Bremer And David C. Gompert, WSJ, 20 Aug. 2021 Henry has, by his own admission, been seduced by the abyss of rage and contempt. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, 23 Aug. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for abyss

borrowed from Late Latin abyssus, borrowed from Greek ábyssos "bottomless, unfathomable, (as noun) bottomless gulf," from a- a- entry 2 + byssós "depth of the sea," probably going back to *byth-yos, derivative of bythós "depth, deepest part, bottom," probably of pre-Greek substratal origin

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Time Traveler for abyss

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The first known use of abyss was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

7 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Abyss.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abyss. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for abyss


\ ə-ˈbis How to pronounce abyss (audio) \

Kids Definition of abyss

: a gulf so deep or space so great that it cannot be measured

More from Merriam-Webster on abyss

Nglish: Translation of abyss for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abyss for Arabic Speakers


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