Definition of abeyance in US English:



  • 1A state of temporary disuse or suspension.

    ‘matters were held in abeyance pending further inquiries’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I see that sanity has prevailed and this crazy and unnecessary idea has now been put into abeyance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As I read on, my doubts, if never resolved, were held in abeyance.’
    • ‘Although repeated again and again this pledge has fallen into abeyance in the post-colonial era.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Manufacture of anti-retrovirals is being held in abeyance pending official government policy on the issue.’
    • ‘The sixteenth-century precedents regarding female rule in England, however, remained in abeyance until Anne's reign.’
    • ‘This meant escalation of the pain that had been held in abeyance.’
    • ‘As to whether Nancy Cornelius was America's first Native American trained nurse, a definitive answer remains in abeyance.’
    • ‘Organizational rules sometimes fall into abeyance.’
    • ‘This application is still held in abeyance until the athlete's indebtedness to the club has been cleared.’
    • ‘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 spokesman confirmed that there was an outstanding planning appeal which at present was held in abeyance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Only your penitent suffering gives us leverage to keep those forces in abeyance.’
    • ‘The poetry press I had run for about twenty years was in abeyance but submissions continued to arrive and one day I got this.’
    suspend, adjourn, interrupt, break off, postpone, delay, defer, shelve, arrest, put off, intermit, prorogue, hold over, put aside, pigeonhole
    suspension, a state of suspension, a state of dormancy, a state of latency, a state of uncertainty, suspense, remission, reserve
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    1. 1.1Law The position of being without, or of waiting for, an owner or claimant.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’.