[ bis-uhs ]

noun,plural bys·sus·es, bys·si [bis-ahy]. /ˈbɪs aɪ/.
  1. Zoology. a collection of silky filaments by which certain mollusks attach themselves to rocks.

  2. 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

Other words from byssus

  • bys·sa·ceous [bih-sey-shuhs], /bɪˈseɪ ʃəs/, byssoid, adjective
  • byssal, adjective

Words Nearby byssus Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use byssus in a sentence

  • The Serica347 also are of a similar kind, and are made of dry byssus, which is obtained from some sort of bark of plants.

  • The meaning of the word byssus has been disputed; some authorities asserting that it includes both flax and cotton fabrics.

    Needlework As Art | Marian Alford
  • The foot is usually provided with a byssus by which the animal fixes itself to a little projection on the side of its burrow.

    The Sea Shore | William S. Furneaux
  • The mantle of the animal is open, and the margins of the lobes fringed; and the small foot spins a powerful byssus.

    The Sea Shore | William S. Furneaux
  • The mummy lay on a mattress of striped byssus, the head on a byssus pillow.

    The Tour | Louis Couperus

British Dictionary definitions for byssus


/ (ˈbɪsəs) /

nounplural byssuses or byssi (ˈbɪsaɪ)
  1. a mass of strong threads secreted by a sea mussel or similar mollusc that attaches the animal to a hard fixed surface

Origin of byssus

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