a woman who is the superior of a convent of nuns.
Historical Examples

His sister, the abbess Kunigunde, was keeping the door of the convent open.
In The Fire Of The Forge, Complete Georg Ebers

The abbess suddenly emerged from the gloom, and was standing in their midst.
Casanova’s Homecoming Arthur Schnitzler

This interruption was welcome to the abbess; she had as yet found no answer to her niece’s startling objection.
In The Fire Of The Forge, Complete Georg Ebers

The abbess will bring her answers to me, and I will pass them on to you.
The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

And after that the abbess had him instructed, and he left the life in the world for the religious life.
Our Catholic Heritage in English Literature of Pre-Conquest Days Emily Hickey

I had to tell the abbess the lady’s name, but not yours as she did not require it.
The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

The abbess laid her hands upon the bowed young head, and kept them so in silence until the storm of grief had passed.
The Lost Lady of Lone E.D.E.N. Southworth

I hope you have the wit to laugh at the abbess’s silly excommunications?
The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

He took the hand of the abbess, and she led the way, mechanically, to the door of an inner room.
Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 59, No. 364, February 1846 Various

Where the abbess of Agreda wanders, he alone remains vigorous and clear.
En Route J.-K. (Joris-Karl) Huysmans

the female superior of a convent

c.1300, abbese, from Old French abbesse, from Late Latin abbatissa, fem. of abbas (see abbot). Replaced earlier abbotess.

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