The head of a community of nuns; after the Dissolution of the monasteries, the madam of a brothel, a usage which suggests vigorous Protestantism. The Latin form was abbatissa.
Cf. Abbot

Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases. .

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  • Abbess — • The female superior in spirituals and temporals of a community of twelve or more nuns Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Abbess     Abbess      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Abbess — Ab bess ([a^]b b[e^]s), n. [OF. abaesse, abeesse, F. abbesse, L. abbatissa, fem. of abbas, abbatis, abbot. See {Abbot}.] A female superior or governess of a nunnery, or convent of nuns, having the same authority over the nuns which the abbots… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • abbess — (n.) c.1300, abbese, from O.Fr. abbesse, from L.L. abbatissa, fem. of abbas (see ABBOT (Cf. abbot)). Replaced earlier abbotess …   Etymology dictionary

  • abbess — ► NOUN ▪ a woman who is the head of an abbey of nuns …   English terms dictionary

  • abbess — [ab′əs] n. [ME abbes < OFr abesse < LL(Ec) abbatissa, fem. of abbas, ABBOT] a woman who is head of an abbey of nuns …   English World dictionary

  • Abbess — An abbess (Latin abbatissa, fem. form of abbas, abbot) is the female superior, or Mother Superior, of an abbey of nuns.In Roman Catholic and Anglican abbeys, the mode of election, position, rights, and authority of an abbess correspond generally… …   Wikipedia

  • Abbess — This most interesting and unusual surname is usually English. It is a variant of Abbs , a patronymic form of Abel , and not as it may seem, a female form of the popular surname and job description Abbot , i.e. The abbess. Abel derives from the… …   Surnames reference

  • abbess — noun /ˈæbɪs/ A female superior or governess of a nunnery, or convent of nuns, having the same authority over the nuns which the abbots have over the monks. The abbess was always after the nuns to keep the convent immaculately clean. Syn: mother… …   Wiktionary

  • abbess — UK [ˈæbes] / US [ˈæbəs] noun [countable] Word forms abbess : singular abbess plural abbesses a woman who is in charge of a convent (= a religious community of women) …   English dictionary

  • abbess —  ; abbot    These terms (from the Aramaic Abba, meaning father ) refer respectively to the religious superior of anabbey of women or the religious superior of an abbey of men. An abbess, who is considered the spiritual mother of the abbey, or an… …   Glossary of theological terms

  • abbess — /ab is/, n. a woman who is the superior of a convent of nuns. [1275 1325; ME abbesse < OF abbesse, abaesse < LL abbatissa, fem. of abbas ABBOT; r. ME abbatisse < LL; in turn r. OE abadisse, abbodesse (cf. OHG abbatissa) < LL *ab(b)adissa for… …   Universalium

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