Definition of abyssal in US English:



  • 1Relating to or denoting the depths or bed of the ocean, especially between about 10,000 and 20,000 feet (3,000 and 6,000 m) down.

    ‘the genera found in the abyssal North Atlantic’
    • ‘Bathyal is defined as pertaining to the ocean bottom between the sublittoral and abyssal zones - from depths of approximately 200 to 400 m.’
    • ‘They are found in all seas, at all latitudes, and from the intertidal to the abyssal zone.’
    • ‘Sardine and squid do not inhabit abyssal plains.’
    • ‘Deep sea animals will heave themselves up from the abyssal depths, even though it's fatal to them, if they hear a rumor that you will be passing overhead in a boat.’
    • ‘Beyond this depth is the area known as the abyssal zone.’
    • ‘They are found in every aquatic habitat from the abyssal depths of the ocean to freshwater streams and ponds; a few can even crawl on land for short periods of time.’
    • ‘These fish live in the abyssal plains, flat expanses of the ocean floor at depths of 10,000 to 20,000 feet.’
    • ‘The near-constant depth of the abyssal sea floor indicates that the lithosphere thickens to roughly 100 km in 70 million years, but then ceases to grow.’
    • ‘He wanted the visitor to The Deep to experience not only the surface of the world's oceans - the shallow reefs and tropical lagoons - but to experience plunging into the abyssal depths below.’
    • ‘The Brother Islands are a solitary outpost, rising like twin towers from the abyssal depths.’
    • ‘Bottom-living marine-invertebrate species are not scattered randomly across the sea floor from the high-tide line to abyssal depths.’
    • ‘I remember hearing that it had no actual bottom, but was just a dark abyssal crack in the planet.’
    • ‘Talisei, Bangka and Lembeh are all on the continental shelf, but the marine park's five islands jut from abyssal depths, and the diving is appropriately dramatic.’
    • ‘With the deepest seas in Indonesia and islands jutting up from abyssal depths, this is truly spectacular diving second to none.’
    • ‘He often combined his talents, whether it were to soothe the weary souls at the local pub or fell an ice dragon in the depths of the abyssal caverns.’
    • ‘Technically, continental shelves are defined as the region of ocean floor between the coast and the shelf-break, where the seafloor steepens into the continental slope and plunges toward the abyssal depths.’
    • ‘This problem with the sediment trap technique is probably restricted to the continental slope and shelf and will not occur over abyssal depths.’
    • ‘The islands are perched at the ragged edge of the continental shelf, right before it plunges more than 2 miles down to the abyssal plain.’
    • ‘This obviously attracted a better class of nautilus, and a bumper crop was viewed by the team the next day in a wonderful dive hanging over an abyssal drop-off.’
    • ‘Under the seemingly flat ocean are deep-sea volcanoes, ridges, abyssal trenches and other features which in many cases dwarf their equivalents on land.’
    1. 1.1Geology
      another term for plutonic (sense 1)
      • ‘Geologists know it as an area of mysterious abyssal hot spots where sediments may hold millions of dollars worth of precious metals.’
      • ‘The width of the mountain is 4-6 times greater than that of most abyssal hills.’
      • ‘The fluids that emerge may come in bursts when earthquakes occur; fluid flow may therefore repeat episodically over hundreds of thousands of years as abyssal hills are uplifted and spread away from the mid-ocean ridge crest.’
      • ‘The incoming sediments beneath the 3 km deep Oman abyssal plain consist of 3 km of Makran sands that are derived from the north.’


Mid 17th century: from late Latin abyssalis ‘belonging to an abyss’ (see abyss).