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[a-bey, ab-ey; French a-bey]
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noun, plural ab·bés [a-beyz, ab-eyz; French a-bey] /æˈbeɪz, ˈæb eɪz; French aˈbeɪ/. (esp. in France)
  1. a member of the secular clergy.
  2. a title of respect for any ecclesiastic or clergyman.
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Origin of abbé

1520–30; < French, Middle French < Late Latin abbāte(m), accusative of abbās abbot
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for abbes

minister, confessor, pastor, preacher, parson, ecclesiastic, clergyman, padre, reverend, cure

Examples from the Web for abbes

Historical Examples of abbes

  • The secret of the Lesbians was only employed, however, by the abbes and the castrata.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete

    Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • The Abbes and the Bishops and the priests are alike distrustful and hostile.

    A Heroine of France

    Evelyn Everett-Green

  • Although a man who frequents the society of abbes is not thought much more of than one who frequents the society of girls.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete

    Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • So that whan sche receyueth newe, sche moste restore the olde to the abbes.

  • The young Abbes had taken Care to engross them so, that there seemd to be no Possibility of coming near them.

British Dictionary definitions for abbes


  1. Ernst. 1840–1905, German physicist, noted for his work in optics and the microscope condenser known as the Abbe condenser
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  1. a French abbot
  2. a title used in addressing any other French cleric, such as a priest
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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 abbes



1520s, title given in France to "every one who wears an ecclesiastical dress," especially one having no assigned ecclesiastical duty, from French abbé, from Late Latin abbatem, accusative of abbas (see abbot).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper