noun Pathology.

a localized collection of pus in the tissues of the body, often accompanied by swelling and inflammation and frequently caused by bacteria.


Nearby words

  1. abs.,
  2. abs. re.,
  3. absalom,
  4. absaroka range,
  5. abscam,
  6. abscessed,
  7. abscind,
  8. abscise,
  9. abscisic acid,
  10. abscissa

Origin of abscess

1535–45; < Latin abscessus a going away, abscess, equivalent to absced-, variant stem of abscēdere to go away, separate off, form an abscess (abs- abs- + cēdere; see cede) + -tus suffix of v. action, with -dt- > -ss-

Related formsab·scessed, adjectiveun·ab·scessed, adjective

Can be confusedabscess obsess

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

Examples from the Web for abscess

British Dictionary definitions for abscess



a localized collection of pus formed as the product of inflammation and usually caused by bacteria


(intr) to form such a collection of pus
Derived Formsabscessed, adjective

Word Origin for abscess

C16: from Latin abscessus a going away, a throwing off of bad humours, hence an abscess, from abscēdere to go away

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 abscess



1610s, from Latin abscessus "an abscess" (Celsus), literally "a going away," from stem of abscedere "withdraw," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + cedere "to go" (see cede). The notion is that humors "go from" the body through the pus in the swelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for abscess




A collection of pus formed by tissue destruction in an inflamed area of a localized infection.
A cavity that is formed by liquefactive necrosis within solid tissue.


To form an abscess.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for abscess



A localized collection of pus surrounded by infected tissue.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for abscess



An inflamed area (see inflammation) in the body tissues that is filled with pus.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.