Meaning of abyssal in English:


Pronunciation /əˈbɪsl/

See synonyms for abyssal on


  • 1mainly technical Relating to or denoting the depths or bed of the ocean, especially between about 3000 and 6000 metres down.

    ‘the abyssal depths of the Atlantic’
    • ‘the genera found in the abyssal North Atlantic’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Bathyal is defined as pertaining to the ocean bottom between the sublittoral and abyssal zones - from depths of approximately 200 to 400 m.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Bottom-living marine-invertebrate species are not scattered randomly across the sea floor from the high-tide line to abyssal depths.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This problem with the sediment trap technique is probably restricted to the continental slope and shelf and will not occur over abyssal depths.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘With the deepest seas in Indonesia and islands jutting up from abyssal depths, this is truly spectacular diving second to none.’
    • ‘The Brother Islands are a solitary outpost, rising like twin towers from the abyssal depths.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They are found in all seas, at all latitudes, and from the intertidal to the abyssal zone.’
    • ‘These fish live in the abyssal plains, flat expanses of the ocean floor at depths of 10,000 to 20,000 feet.’
    • ‘Beyond this depth is the area known as the abyssal zone.’
    • ‘Under the seemingly flat ocean are deep-sea volcanoes, ridges, abyssal trenches and other features which in many cases dwarf their equivalents on land.’
    • ‘I remember hearing that it had no actual bottom, but was just a dark abyssal crack in the planet.’
    • ‘Sardine and squid do not inhabit abyssal plains.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1Geology
      another term for plutonic (sense 1)
      ‘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 width of the mountain is 4-6 times greater than that of most abyssal hills.’
      • ‘The incoming sediments beneath the 3 km deep Oman abyssal plain consist of 3 km of Makran sands that are derived from the north.’
      • ‘Geologists know it as an area of mysterious abyssal hot spots where sediments may hold millions of dollars worth of precious metals.’


Early 17th century (in the sense ‘unfathomable’): from medieval Latin abyssalis ‘belonging to an abyss’ (see abyss).