A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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View Scan · View Transcription · from page 66

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 66

Aby'ss. n.s. [abyssus, Lat. Ἄβυσσος, bottomless, Gr.]

  1. A depth without bottom.

    Who shall tempt with wand'ring feet
    The dark, unbottom'd, infinite abyss,
    And, through the palpable obscure, find out
    This uncouth way.
    Milton's Paradise Lost, b. ii. l. 405.

  2. A great depth, a gulph.

    The yawning earth disclos'd th' abyss of hell:
    The weeping statues did the wars foretell,
    And holy sweat from brazen idols fell.
    Dryd. Virg. Georg. i.

  3. In a figurative sense, that in which any thing is lost.

    For sepulchres themselves must crumbling fall
    In time's abyss, the common grave of all.
    Dryd. Juv. Sat. x.

    If, discovering how far we have clear and distinct ideas, we confine our thoughts within the contemplation of those things, that are within the reach of our understandings, and launch not out into that abyss of darkness, out of a presumption, that nothing is beyond our comprehension. Locke.

  4. The body of waters supposed at the center of the earth.

    We are here to consider what is generally understood by the great abyss, in the common explication of the deluge; and 'tis commonly interpreted either to be the sea, or subterraneous waters hid in the bowels of the earth. Burnet's Theor. Earth.

  5. In the language of divines, hell.

    From that insatiable abyss,
    Where flames devour, and serpents hiss,
    Promote me to thy seat of bliss.

Sources: Burnet, Thomas (45) · Dillon, Wentworth (Roscommon) (31) · Dryden, John (788) · Locke, John (269) · Milton, John (449)

Attributes: Greek (126) · Latin (690) · Noun Substantive (1269)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Abyss." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: January 31, 2014. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/abyss/.

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