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- For other uses, see Abyss.
The English word "abyss" derives from the late Latin abyssimus (superlative of abyssus) through French abisme (abîme in modern French), hence the poetic form "abysm", with examples dating to 1616 and earlier to rhyme with "time". The Latin word is borrowed from the Greek abussos (also transliterated as abyssos), which is conventionally analyzed as deriving from the Greek element meaning "deep, bottom" with an alpha privative, hence "bottomless."
In the Septuagint, or Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, the word represents both the original chaos (Genesis 1:2) and the Hebrew tehom ("a surging water-deep"), which is used also in apocalyptic and kabbalistic literature and in the New Testament for hell; the place of punishment; in the Revised (not the Authorized) version of the Bible "abyss" is generally used for this idea. Primarily in the Septuagint cosmography the word is applied both to the waters under the earth which originally covered it, and from which the springs and rivers are supplied and to the waters of the firmament which were regarded as closely connected with those below.
- "Abyss". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Abyss.