[ bis-uhs ]

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.

Origin of byssus

1350–1400; Middle English <Latin <Greek býssos a fine cotton or linen <Semitic; compare Hebrew būts

Other words from byssus

  • bys·sa·ceous [bih-sey-shuhs], /bɪˈseɪ ʃəs/, byssoid, adjective
  • byssal, adjective

Words Nearby byssus Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use byssus in a sentence

  • Clean your mussels just before you are ready to cook, because once you yank off that byssus, the mussel may die, and you want to cook them while they are alive.

  • The Serica347 also are of a similar kind, and are made of dry byssus, which is obtained from some sort of bark of plants.

  • The meaning of the word byssus has been disputed; some authorities asserting that it includes both flax and cotton fabrics.

    Needlework As Art | Marian Alford
  • The foot is usually provided with a byssus by which the animal fixes itself to a little projection on the side of its burrow.

    The Sea Shore | William S. Furneaux
  • The mantle of the animal is open, and the margins of the lobes fringed; and the small foot spins a powerful byssus.

    The Sea Shore | William S. Furneaux
  • The mummy lay on a mattress of striped byssus, the head on a byssus pillow.

    The Tour | Louis Couperus

British Dictionary definitions for byssus


/ (ˈbɪsəs) /

nounplural 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

Origin of byssus

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