[uh-biz-uh m]


an abyss.

Origin of abysm

1250–1300; Middle English abi(s)me < Middle French abisme < Vulgar Latin *abyssimus, a neologistic pseudo-superlative of Late Latin abyssus abyss
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for abysm

abyss, depth, gorge, gulf, chasm

Examples from the Web for abysm

Historical Examples of abysm

  • I've been exploring the dark backwards and abysm of the Bronx—afoot.

    The Destroying Angel

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Cf. “Tempest,” i, 2, 50: “In the dark backward and abysm of time.”

  • His voice dropped, and he seemed to drop too, into some abysm of thought.

    Balcony Stories

    Grace E. King

  • "Four years," said Andrew looking into the dark backward and abysm of time.

    The Mountebank

    William J. Locke

  • It is easy to see how such conditions profoundly limit the development of organic being in the abysm of the ocean.

    Outlines of the Earth's History

    Nathaniel Southgate Shaler

British Dictionary definitions for abysm



an archaic word for abyss

Word Origin for abysm

C13: via Old French from Medieval Latin abysmus abyss
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 abysm

"bottomless gulf, greatest depths," now chiefly poetic, c.1300, from Old French abisme (Modern French abîme), from Vulgar Latin *abyssimus (source of Spanish and Portuguese abismo), which represents either a superlative of Latin abyssus or a formation on analogy of Greek-derived words in -ismus; see abyss.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper