Definition of byssus in English:



  • 1historical A fine textile fiber and fabric of flax.

    • ‘Exactly how these proteins link together to give the material, called byssus, its strength has remained unclear.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The word denotes Egyptian linen of peculiar whiteness and fineness (byssus).’
    • ‘Linen fabrics (Byssus) were as marketable in China as were silk fabrics in the west.’
  • 2Zoology
    A tuft of tough silky filaments by which mussels and some other bivalves adhere to rocks and other objects.

    as modifier ‘byssus threads’
    • ‘The individual cages allowed the transfer of mussels to respirometry chambers without severing their byssus.’
    • ‘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 primary source of this variation is not the number of threads present in the byssus, but rather, their thickness.’
    • ‘The strength of the entire byssus is expected to be proportional to the number of threads times the average strength of each thread.’
    • ‘By the time the shells are mature, they have lost the byssus anchor and are found loose on the ocean floor.’
    clump, bunch, knot, cluster, tussock, tuffet
    View synonyms


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