See also: Abyss.


Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English abissus, from Late Latin abyssus (a bottomless gulf), from Ancient Greek ἄβυσσος (ábussos, bottomless), from ἀ- (a-, not) + βυσσός (bussós, deep place),[1][2] from βυθός (buthós, deep place).[3]



abyss (plural abysses)

  1. Hell; the bottomless pit; primeval chaos; a confined subterranean ocean. [First attested around 1350 to 1470.][1]
  2. (frequently figuratively) A bottomless or unfathomed depth, gulf, or chasm; hence, any deep, immeasurable; any void space. [First attested in the late 16th century.][1]
  3. Anything infinite, immeasurable, or profound. [First attested in the late 16th century.][1]
  4. Moral depravity; vast intellectual or moral depth.
    They fell into the abyss of drug addiction.
  5. An impending catastrophic happening.
  6. (heraldry) The center of an escutcheon.
  7. (oceanography) The abyssal zone.
  8. (figuratively) A difference, especially a large difference, between groups.

Usage notesEdit

  • (impending catastrophic happening): It is typically preceded by the word the.



Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abyss”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 11.
  2. ^ William Morris, editor (1969 (1971 printing)), “abyss”, in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, New York, N.Y.: American Heritage Publishing Co., OCLC 299754516, page 6.
  3. ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], →ISBN), page 9