Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

abbess

[ab-is]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a woman who is the superior of a convent of nuns.

Origin of abbess

1275–1325; Middle English abbesse < Old French abbesse, abaesse < Late Latin abbātissa, feminine of abbās abbot; replacing Middle English abbatisse < Late Latin; in turn replacing Old English abadisse, abbodesse (compare Old High German abbatissa) < Late Latin *ab(b)adissa for abbātissa

Usage note

See -ess.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for abbess

Historical Examples

  • The Abbess suddenly emerged from the gloom, and was standing in their midst.

    Casanova's Homecoming

    Arthur Schnitzler

  • But when Marcolina wished to kiss her hand, the Abbess gathered the girl in her arms.

    Casanova's Homecoming

    Arthur Schnitzler

  • I had to tell the abbess the lady's name, but not yours as she did not require it.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete

    Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • The abbess will bring her answers to me, and I will pass them on to you.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete

    Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • I hope you have the wit to laugh at the abbess's silly excommunications?

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete

    Jacques Casanova de Seingalt


British Dictionary definitions for abbess

abbess

noun
  1. the female superior of a convent

Word Origin

C13: from Old French, from Church Latin abbātissa
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for abbess

n.

c.1300, abbese, from Old French abbesse, from Late Latin abbatissa, fem. of abbas (see abbot). Replaced earlier abbotess.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper