Definition of byssus in English:



  • 1historical mass noun A fine textile fibre and fabric of flax.

    • ‘Linen fabrics (Byssus) were as marketable in China as were silk fabrics in the west.’
    • ‘The word denotes Egyptian linen of peculiar whiteness and fineness (byssus).’
    • ‘If we understand it of thread, it may refer to the byssus or fine flax for which Egypt was famous; but I do not see on what authority we translate it linen thread.’
    • ‘Exactly how these proteins link together to give the material, called byssus, its strength has remained unclear.’
  • 2Zoology
    A tuft of tough silky filaments by which mussels and some other bivalves adhere to rocks and other objects.

    • ‘The primary source of this variation is not the number of threads present in the byssus, but rather, their thickness.’
    • ‘The individual cages allowed the transfer of mussels to respirometry chambers without severing their byssus.’
    • ‘By the time the shells are mature, they have lost the byssus anchor and are found loose on the ocean floor.’
    • ‘Before serving them to the knots, we put the mussels through a mesh to break the byssus threads that held them together and to sort them by size.’
    • ‘The strength of the entire byssus is expected to be proportional to the number of threads times the average strength of each thread.’
    clump, bunch, knot, cluster, tussock, tuffet
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Latin, from Greek bussos, of Semitic origin.