temporary inactivity, cessation, or suspension: Let's hold that problem in abeyance for a while.
Law. a state or condition of real property in which title is not as yet vested in a known titleholder: an estate in abeyance.

Origin of abeyance

1520–30; < Anglo-French; Old French abeance aspiration, literally, a gaping at or toward. See a-5, bay2, -ance

Synonyms for abeyance

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for abeyance

Contemporary Examples of abeyance

Historical Examples of abeyance

  • "The punishment lies in abeyance for the present," explained Hamish.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • It would have been hard to bear had she not known what a triumph she held in abeyance.

    A Singer from the Sea

    Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

  • The pomp and magnificence of sunset were in abeyance to-night, were laid aside.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • Perhaps they are sending Maria Angelina away to keep her in abeyance!

    The Innocent Adventuress

    Mary Hastings Bradley

  • His will was in abeyance, and to her intense relief he got up and followed her.

    Audrey Craven

    May Sinclair

British Dictionary definitions for abeyance



(usually preceded by in or into) a state of being suspended or put aside temporarily
(usually preceded by in) law an indeterminate state of ownership, as when the person entitled to an estate has not been ascertained
Derived Formsabeyant, adjective

Word Origin for abeyance

C16-17: from Anglo-French, from Old French abeance expectation, literally a gaping after, a reaching towards
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 abeyance

1520s, from Anglo-French abeiance "suspension," also "expectation (especially in a lawsuit)," from Old French abeance "aspiration, desire," noun of condition of abeer "aspire after, gape" from à "at" (see ad-) + ba(y)er "be open," from Latin *batare "to yawn, gape" (see abash).

Originally in French a legal term, "condition of a person in expectation or hope of receiving property;" it turned around in English law to mean "condition of property temporarily without an owner" (1650s). Root baer is also the source of English bay (n.2) "recessed space," as in "bay window."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper