[ ab-is ]
/ ˈæb ɪs /


a woman who is the superior of a convent of nuns.

Origin of abbess

1275–1325; Middle English abbesse < Old French abbesse, abaesse < Late Latin abbātissa, feminine of abbās abbot; replacing Middle English abbatisse < Late Latin; in turn replacing Old English abadisse, abbodesse (compare Old High German abbatissa) < Late Latin *ab(b)adissa for abbātissa

usage note for abbess

See -ess. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for abbess

British Dictionary definitions for abbess

/ (ˈæbɪs) /


the female superior of a convent

Word Origin for abbess

C13: from Old French, from Church Latin abbātissa
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