Definition of abysm in US English:



  • ‘the abysm from which nightmares crawl’
    a literary or poetic term for abyss
    • ‘For its self-referential abysms are only made darker by the thought that Rosemary Squires didn't pour her heart into this song: Irving Berlin did.’
    • ‘Crystal reached her shaking hand and took it as if it was her last salvation before she falls in the abysm.’
    • ‘‘What she offered,’ notes the author, ‘in her most sensual, primitive, uncivilized and, from the standpoint of normal aesthetics, distasteful acts slipped over the brink - and she could take you with her - into the abysms of the sacred.’’


Middle English: from Old French abisme, medieval Latin abysmus, alteration of late Latin abyssus ‘bottomless pit’, the ending being assimilated to the Greek ending -ismos.