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[uh-bey-uh ns] /əˈbeɪ əns/
temporary inactivity, cessation, or suspension:
Let's hold that problem in abeyance for a while.
Law. a state or condition of real property in which title is not as yet vested in a known titleholder:
an estate in abeyance.
Origin of abeyance
1520-30; < Anglo-French; Old French abeance aspiration, literally, a gaping at or toward. See a-5, bay2, -ance
1. remission, deferral. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for abeyance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "The punishment lies in abeyance for the present," explained Hamish.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • It would have been hard to bear had she not known what a triumph she held in abeyance.

    A Singer from the Sea Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
  • The pomp and magnificence of sunset were in abeyance to-night, were laid aside.

    A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens
  • Perhaps they are sending Maria Angelina away to keep her in abeyance!

    The Innocent Adventuress Mary Hastings Bradley
  • His will was in abeyance, and to her intense relief he got up and followed her.

    Audrey Craven May Sinclair
  • That, however, was necessarily kept in abeyance during Jack's presence.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope
  • So absorbed is he, that bodily pain and Sir Donald are in abeyance.

    Oswald Langdon Carson Jay Lee
  • When a man is acting with his inclination, his will is in abeyance.

    David Elginbrod George MacDonald
  • The subject stood in abeyance while she feasted and took thought.

    The Wrong Woman

    Charles D. Stewart
British Dictionary definitions for abeyance


usually preceded by in or into. a state of being suspended or put aside temporarily
(usually preceded by in) (law) an indeterminate state of ownership, as when the person entitled to an estate has not been ascertained
Derived Forms
abeyant, adjective
Word Origin
C16-17: from Anglo-French, from Old French abeance expectation, literally a gaping after, a reaching towards
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
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Word Origin and History for abeyance

1520s, from Anglo-French abeiance "suspension," also "expectation (especially in a lawsuit)," from Old French abeance "aspiration, desire," noun of condition of abeer "aspire after, gape" from à "at" (see ad-) + ba(y)er "be open," from Latin *batare "to yawn, gape" (see abash).

Originally in French a legal term, "condition of a person in expectation or hope of receiving property;" it turned around in English law to mean "condition of property temporarily without an owner" (1650s). Root baer is also the source of English bay (n.2) "recessed space," as in "bay window."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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