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[uh-biz-uh m] /əˈbɪz əm/
an abyss.
Origin of abysm
1250-1300; Middle English abi(s)me < Middle French abisme < Vulgar Latin *abyssimus, a neologistic pseudo-superlative of Late Latin abyssus abyss Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for abysm
Historical Examples
  • I've been exploring the dark backwards and abysm of the Bronx—afoot.

    The Destroying Angel

    Louis Joseph Vance
  • Cf. “Tempest,” i, 2, 50: “In the dark backward and abysm of time.”

  • His voice dropped, and he seemed to drop too, into some abysm of thought.

    Balcony Stories Grace E. King
  • "Four years," said Andrew looking into the dark backward and abysm of time.

    The Mountebank William J. Locke
  • It is easy to see how such conditions profoundly limit the development of organic being in the abysm of the ocean.

    Outlines of the Earth's History Nathaniel Southgate Shaler
  • This makes their date one of incalculable antiquity; they are removed from us by a ‘dark backward and abysm of time.’

    Custom and Myth Andrew Lang
  • Phil and I had been classmates in the dark backward and abysm, and we were still, in a manner of speaking, friends.

    The Book of Susan Lee Wilson Dodd
  • I shall never count an iota against you "in the dark backward and abysm of Time."

  • A horseman dashed to the front; and, poising his horse upon the very edge, looked down into the abysm.

    The White Chief Mayne Reid
  • The flooring of these colossal garrets has crevices in it through which one can look down into the abysm, the church, below.

British Dictionary definitions for abysm


an archaic word for abyss
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Medieval Latin abysmusabyss
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 abysm

"bottomless gulf, greatest depths," now chiefly poetic, c.1300, from Old French abisme (Modern French abîme), from Vulgar Latin *abyssimus (source of Spanish and Portuguese abismo), which represents either a superlative of Latin abyssus or a formation on analogy of Greek-derived words in -ismus; see abyss.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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