• synonyms


[bis-uh s]
noun, plural bys·sus·es, bys·si [bis-ahy] /ˈbɪs aɪ/.
  1. Zoology. a collection of silky filaments by which certain mollusks attach themselves to rocks.
  2. an ancient cloth, thought to be of linen, cotton, or silk.
Show More

Origin of byssus

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin < Greek býssos a fine cotton or linen < Semitic; compare Hebrew būts
Related formsbys·sa·ceous [bih-sey-shuh s] /bɪˈseɪ ʃəs/, bys·soid, adjectivebys·sal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for byssus

Historical Examples

  • The silky filaments or byssus by which some testacea adhere to rocks.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • The byssus plays an important part in the organization of the mussel.

    The Ocean World:

    Louis Figuier

  • In Crenatula also there is no passage for the byssus, as in Perna.

    A Conchological Manual

    George Brettingham Sowerby

  • Flat, turned up at the sides, an hiatus for the passage of a byssus.

    A Conchological Manual

    George Brettingham Sowerby

  • The animals swim like Lima, as above, and also spin a byssus.

    Illustrated Index of British Shells

    George Brettingham Sowerby

British Dictionary definitions for byssus


noun plural byssuses or byssi (ˈbɪsaɪ)
  1. a mass of strong threads secreted by a sea mussel or similar mollusc that attaches the animal to a hard fixed surface
Show More

Word Origin

C17: from Latin, from Greek bussos linen, flax, ultimately of Egyptian origin
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