Definition of abeyance in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A state of temporary disuse or suspension:

    ‘matters were held in abeyance pending further enquiries’
    • ‘A measure that passed Congress and was signed by the executive might still be held in abeyance on constitutional grounds by a court.’
    • ‘‘A lot of expansion plans were put in abeyance,’ he said.’
    • ‘In Europe atmospheric perspective remained in abeyance for 1,000 years, to be rediscovered by the early 15th-century, Flemish painters.’
    • ‘We may be living through an era of prosperity and calm in which politics has gone into abeyance - and when a real crisis comes along politics will return in a new form we cannot imagine.’
    • ‘But since it is rare in any book aimed at children to see a discussion of economics, let alone imperialism and militarism, that criticism might be held in abeyance.’
    • ‘Organizational rules sometimes fall into abeyance.’
    • ‘As to whether Nancy Cornelius was America's first Native American trained nurse, a definitive answer remains in abeyance.’
    • ‘The sad thing now is that railways have fallen into abeyance and the motor car's taken over, despite the great efforts of Fischer and people like that.’
    • ‘The sixteenth-century precedents regarding female rule in England, however, remained in abeyance until Anne's reign.’
    • ‘The spokesman confirmed that there was an outstanding planning appeal which at present was held in abeyance.’
    • ‘This meant escalation of the pain that had been held in abeyance.’
    • ‘The issue of whether or not paranormal beliefs can be verified by scientific, empirical research methods is held in abeyance as a secondary concern.’
    • ‘The poetry press I had run for about twenty years was in abeyance but submissions continued to arrive and one day I got this.’
    • ‘Manufacture of anti-retrovirals is being held in abeyance pending official government policy on the issue.’
    • ‘Although repeated again and again this pledge has fallen into abeyance in the post-colonial era.’
    • ‘This application is still held in abeyance until the athlete's indebtedness to the club has been cleared.’
    • ‘I see that sanity has prevailed and this crazy and unnecessary idea has now been put into abeyance.’
    • ‘Only your penitent suffering gives us leverage to keep those forces in abeyance.’
    • ‘For the most part, these questions should be held in abeyance until other researchers either validate or disprove the hypothesis outlined in the present study.’
    • ‘As I read on, my doubts, if never resolved, were held in abeyance.’
    suspend, adjourn, interrupt, break off, postpone, delay, defer, shelve, arrest, put off, intermit, prorogue, hold over, put aside, pigeonhole
    cut short, bring to an end, cease, discontinue, dissolve, disband, terminate, call a halt to
    suspension, a state of suspension, a state of dormancy, a state of latency, a state of uncertainty, suspense, remission, reserve
    pending, suspended, deferred, postponed, put off, put to one side, unattended, unfinished, incomplete, unresolved, undetermined, up in the air, betwixt and between
    in cold storage, on ice, on the back burner, hanging fire
    put on ice, put on the back burner, mothball
    take a rain check on
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Law The position of being without, or of waiting for, an owner or claimant.
      • ‘Counsel agreed to hold these actions in abeyance until the question of entitlement is determined by this court.’
      • ‘All property rights in the property to which the order relates lie in abeyance.’
      • ‘The compromise sets aside disputes about sovereignty by putting territorial claims into abeyance for the treaty's duration.’
      • ‘The situation was left with Mr Johnson being advised to contact his solicitor further for advice and being told that Social Services would hold his claim in abeyance.’
      • ‘However, there were times when East himself was publisher as well as printer, in particular during the periods when the patent was in abeyance.’


Late 16th century (in the legal sense): from Old French abeance aspiration to a title, from abeer aspire after, from a- towards + beer to gape.