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[bis-uh s] /ˈbɪs əs/
noun, plural byssuses, byssi
[bis-ahy] /ˈbɪs aɪ/ (Show IPA)
Zoology. a collection of silky filaments by which certain mollusks attach themselves to rocks.
an ancient cloth, thought to be of linen, cotton, or silk.
Origin of byssus
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin < Greek býssos a fine cotton or linen < Semitic; compare Hebrew būts
Related forms
[bih-sey-shuh s] /bɪˈseɪ ʃəs/ (Show IPA),
byssoid, adjective
byssal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for byssus
Historical Examples
  • The silky filaments or byssus by which some testacea adhere to rocks.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • The byssus plays an important part in the organization of the mussel.

    The Ocean World: Louis Figuier
  • In Crenatula also there is no passage for the byssus, as in Perna.

    A Conchological Manual George Brettingham Sowerby
  • Flat, turned up at the sides, an hiatus for the passage of a byssus.

    A Conchological Manual George Brettingham Sowerby
  • The animals swim like Lima, as above, and also spin a byssus.

    Illustrated Index of British Shells George Brettingham Sowerby
  • It is found in great numbers attached to oysters by its byssus.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • In the ventral margin there is an opening for the accommodation of a byssus.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • The mummy lay on a mattress of striped byssus, the head on a byssus pillow.

    The Tour Louis Couperus
  • A form of fungus known as byssus grows upon dead ova, and it is principally for this reason that they must be removed.

    Amateur Fish Culture Charles Edward Walker
  • The peculiarity of byssus is that it stretches out its long, slender arms, which grow rapidly over everything within its reach.

    Amateur Fish Culture Charles Edward Walker
British Dictionary definitions for byssus


noun (pl) byssuses, byssi (ˈbɪsaɪ)
a mass of strong threads secreted by a sea mussel or similar mollusc that attaches the animal to a hard fixed surface
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, from Greek bussos linen, flax, ultimately of Egyptian origin
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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