A'bbess. n.s. [Lat. abbatissa, from whence the Saxon abuꝺıꞅꞅ, then probably abbatess, and by contraction abbesse in Fr. and abbess, Eng.] The superiour or governess of a nunnery or monastery of women.
Into this abbey, whither we pursued them;
And here the abbess shuts the gate on us,
And will not suffer us to fetch him out. Shakesp. Comedy of Errours.
I have a sister, abbess in Terceras,
Who lost her lover on her bridal-day. Dryd. D. Sebast.
Constantia's heart was so elevated with the discourse of Father Francis, that the very next day she entered upon her vow. As soon as the solemnities of her reception were over, we retired, as it is usual, with the abbess into her own apartment. Addison. Spect. № 164.