Definition of abseil in English:



[no object]British
  • Descend a rock face or other near-vertical surface by using a doubled rope coiled round the body and fixed at a higher point.

    ‘team members had to abseil down sheer cliffs to reach the couple’
    • ‘I abseiled frontward down a rock face - never again.’
    • ‘Cleaning the windows of the Arndale tower was previously carried out by window cleaners abseiling down the side of the building, but the hoist system ensures a more efficient and safer job.’
    • ‘A specialist team abseiled down the quarry with an animal rope sling to rescue border collie Meg after she was spotted on a rock ledge three days after going missing from her Cliviger home.’
    • ‘To get off the yacht required abseiling down a rope but I was too scared to make that small jump onto the rope.’
    • ‘We fixed the ropes and abseiled down through the spray of the waterfalls, dropping directly into pools.’
    • ‘The winners will take part in canoeing, water skiing, rock climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, orienteering and hill walking.’
    • ‘Inspector Kench set up a rope system and abseiled down to rescue the frightened animal, which, to his horror, then tried to escape.’
    • ‘The demonstration involved Royal Marines abseiling from a Lynx helicopter to the deck of the ship while under way at speed - a technique known as fast roping.’
    • ‘Staff at HSBC, in Parliament Street, York, got their adrenalin pumping by abseiling down the four-storey building.’
    • ‘The training covered four specific skill areas, starting with instruction and training in combat signals, tactical river crossing, climbing and abseiling.’
    • ‘Seventeen-year-old Jack Kirkby has just returned from a trip to New Zealand, where he has been skiing, taking helicopter rides and even abseiling.’
    • ‘We hiked, swam, climbed, potholed, abseiled, ran, jumped, fell in, fell over and camped on most of Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland during my time with the association.’
    • ‘Rigging up his rope, Howie ventured out on to the rock face and abseiled down to what we could only assume was a ledge.’
    • ‘I've done abseiling and rock climbing and rope courses and stuff - it usually takes me hours to work up the courage, and everyone gets annoyed with me, but I always do it in the end.’
    • ‘I love abseiling and rock climbing and I even have a motorbike.’
    • ‘Look what we offer: rock-climbing, abseiling, canoeing.’
    • ‘You say that ‘retirees’ do not want an active life thrust upon them, ‘nor do they aspire to go abseiling in their eighties’.’
    • ‘Every spring the children in Years 5 and 6 are taken on a residential visit to take part in such activities as rock climbing, abseiling and orienteering etc.’
    • ‘Last year we got money to spend on playground games, but the bats were soon turned into weapons and the skipping ropes used for abseiling.’
    • ‘Mr Gallivan said it was not possible to be sure what had led to the fall, but the man may have been abseiling when he let go of the rope and dropped out of control.’


  • A descent made by abseiling.

    ‘a 120 ft abseil’
    • ‘We climbed back up the cliff face then strapped into our harnesses for the abseil.’
    • ‘He has since done a charity abseil down the side of Manchester City's Kippax Stand and tried hang-gliding, power-gliding, jet-skiing, fire-eating and a two-mile tandem sky drop.’
    • ‘I am petrified of heights and last year did an abseil which I found really scary.’
    • ‘It was a refreshing change from the office and I tagged along as the team spent the next seven hours setting up anchor systems and despatching members off into pools of freezing water, with abseils ranging from seven to 65m.’
    • ‘The Trust, which supports children's healthcare across the North West, has raised more than £5 million since its creation and is hoping the abseil will become a major annual event.’
    • ‘The caving expedition commenced with an abseil into the Elder cave system then through a gap (the first of many) which looked barely big enough to fit through the battery pack for the head lamps, let alone a whole person.’
    • ‘The abseil is to raise funds for Cancer Research UK, which hopes to raise £15,000 for research into breast cancer.’
    • ‘The trip was made possible after the group raised more than £18,000, with the help of local businesses, and their own initiatives, such as an abseil from the top of Horwich Fire Station.’
    • ‘The instructor who assisted her on the way down said that she did a textbook abseil.’
    • ‘Abseiling at the Europa: A number of locals took part in a sponsored abseil from the roof of the Europa Hotel, Belfast on Saturday last.’
    • ‘Other forthcoming events planned to raise cash for the appeal include a sponsored abseil on May 1 from the 100 ft high WH Smith building in Greenbridge.’
    • ‘She said: ‘It was a combination of believing in the cause and wanting to do something that made me have a go at the abseil.’’
    • ‘For the daredevils out there, the charity is also organising a sponsored abseil, with the nearest taking place in Sheffield on the weekend of October 13-14.’
    • ‘She said after the abseil: ‘It was great going down because there were people waving to me at every window.’’
    • ‘The abseil was completed, but we suffered a 30-minute delay due to the abseiling staff pointing us in the wrong direction at the bottom.’
    • ‘The Jervis Bay area provided plenty of scope for rough paddling, crazy downhill mountain biking, challenging navigation and even an abseil with bikes!’
    • ‘Mrs Swift has completed eight parachute jumps and numerous abseils and did her last freefall in July at the age of 83.’
    • ‘I've taken lots of challenges during my radio life but have not done an abseil before.’
    • ‘I was sort of looking forward to the abseil, although I was dreading it a bit as well and was a bit scared.’
    • ‘Phase one began with a morning abseil down a 45m cylinder at Brisbane's Mount Crosby water treatment facility, followed by rafting in the afternoon.’


1930s: from German abseilen, from ab ‘down’ + Seil ‘rope’.