a deep, immeasurable space, gulf, or cavity; vast chasm.
anything profound, unfathomable, or infinite:
the abyss of time.

the primal chaos before Creation.
the infernal regions; hell.
a subterranean ocean.

Contemporary Examples

“Sometimes you have to create the abyss so it can be filled with something,” he said.
CNN Chief Dishes on Exit Rebecca Dana September 23, 2010

They are more often than not kids who are the twin brothers of the fabulous traders who led Wall Street to the abyss.
Bernard-Henri Lévy: Downgrade Moody’s! Bernard-Henri Lévy December 13, 2011

Brazilian police have pulled back the city from an abyss of crime.
Rio’s Security Crisis Mac Margolis August 6, 2013

Acclaimed documentarian Werner Herzog takes an unsparing look at the death penalty in his new film, ‘Into the abyss.’
Werner Herzog’s ‘Into the Abyss’ Explores the Death Penalty Ben Crair November 19, 2011

In the month since elections produced not one but two presidents, the country has teetered on the abyss of violence.
Civil War Looms in Ivory Coast Firouzeh Afsharnia January 2, 2011

Historical Examples

The thought of her was life and death in his frame, bright heaven and the abyss.
The Tragic Comedians, Complete George Meredith

But if one falls, that is no reason to throw oneself in the abyss.
A Comedy of Marriage and Other Tales Guy De Maupassant

Well for me it was not the abyss which yawns at the end of Pillar Hall.
A Month in Yorkshire Walter White

Invoke not the unhallowed spirits of the abyss; invoke the spotless synod of the Gods.
Imogen William Godwin

In its palmy days people were only speculating upon the borders of an abyss which had not yet opened visibly before them.
The Women of the French Salons Amelia Gere Mason

a very deep or unfathomable gorge or chasm
anything that appears to be endless or immeasurably deep, such as time, despair, or shame
hell or the infernal regions conceived of as a bottomless pit

late 14c., earlier abime (c.1300, from a form in Old French), from Late Latin abyssus “bottomless pit,” from Greek abyssos (limne) “bottomless (pool),” from a- “without” (see a- (2)) + byssos “bottom,” possibly related to bathos “depth.”

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