- See under labyrinth(def 6a).
- an intricate combination of paths or passages in which it is difficult to find one's way or to reach the exit.
- a maze of paths bordered by high hedges, as in a park or garden, for the amusement of those who search for a way out.
- a complicated or tortuous arrangement, as of streets or buildings.
- any confusingly intricate state of things or events; a bewildering complex: His papers were lost in an hellish bureaucratic labyrinth. After the death of her daughter, she wandered in a labyrinth of sorrow for what seemed like a decade.
- (initial capital letter) Classical Mythology. a vast maze built in Crete by Daedalus, at the command of King Minos, to house the Minotaur.
- the internal ear, consisting of a bony portion (bony labyrinth) and a membranous portion (membranous labyrinth).
- the aggregate of air chambers in the ethmoid bone, between the eye and the upper part of the nose.
- a mazelike pattern inlaid in the pavement of a church.
- Also called acoustic labyrinth, acoustical labyrinth. Audio. a loudspeaker enclosure with air chambers at the rear for absorbing sound waves radiating in one direction so as to prevent their interference with waves radiated in another direction.
Origin of labyrinth
- Greek myth a huge maze constructed for King Minos in Crete by Daedalus to contain the Minotaur
- a mazelike network of tunnels, chambers, or paths, either natural or man-madeCompare maze (def. 1)
- any complex or confusing system of streets, passages, etc
- a complex or intricate situation
- any system of interconnecting cavities, esp those comprising the internal ear
- another name for internal ear
- electronics an enclosure behind a high-performance loudspeaker, consisting of a series of air chambers designed to absorb unwanted sound waves
Word Origin and History for bony labyrinth
c.1400, laberynthe (late 14c. in Latinate form laborintus) "labyrinth, maze," figuratively "bewildering arguments," from Latin labyrinthus, from Greek labyrinthos "maze, large building with intricate passages," especially the structure built by Daedelus to hold the Minotaur near Knossos in Crete, from a pre-Greek language; perhaps related to Lydian labrys "double-edged axe," symbol of royal power, which fits with the theory that the labyrinth was originally the royal Minoan palace on Crete and meant "palace of the double-axe." Used in English for "maze" early 15c., and in figurative sense of "confusing state of affairs" (1540s).
- A group of complex interconnecting anatomical cavities.
- inner ear
- The system of interconnecting canals and spaces that make up the inner ear of many vertebrates. The labyrinth has both a bony component, made up of the cochlea, the semicircular canals, and the vestibule, and a membranous one.