Definition of abeyance in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈbeɪəns/


[mass noun]
1A state of temporary disuse or suspension: matters were held in abeyance pending further enquiries
More example sentences
  • Manufacture of anti-retrovirals is being held in abeyance pending official government policy on the issue.
  • A measure that passed Congress and was signed by the executive might still be held in abeyance on constitutional grounds by a court.
  • This meant escalation of the pain that had been held in abeyance.
suspension, a state of suspension, a state of dormancy, a state of latency, a state of uncertainty, suspense, remission, reserve;
pending, suspended, deferred, postponed, put off, put to one side, unattended, unfinished, incomplete, unresolved, undetermined, up in the air, betwixt and between
informal in cold storage, on ice, on the back burner, hanging fire
suspend, adjourn, interrupt, break off, postpone, delay, defer, shelve, arrest, put off, intermit, prorogue, hold over, put aside, pigeonhole;
cut short, bring to an end, cease, discontinue, dissolve, disband, terminate, call a halt to;
North American  table
informal put on ice, put on the back burner, mothball
North American informal take a rain check on
1.1 Law The position of being without, or of waiting for, an owner or claimant.
Example sentences
  • Counsel agreed to hold these actions in abeyance until the question of entitlement is determined by this court.
  • All property rights in the property to which the order relates lie in abeyance.
  • However, there were times when East himself was publisher as well as printer, in particular during the periods when the patent was in abeyance.



Example sentences
  • Where other, more vigorous incentives are abeyant they can be expected to assume increased prominence.
  • In 1986 Her Majesty agreed to comply with the advice proffered to her by the Lords regarding abeyant peerages.
  • All Basset titles became abeyant or extinct before publication of the series began.


Late 16th century (in the legal sense): from Old French abeance 'aspiration to a title', from abeer 'aspire after', from a- 'towards' + beer 'to gape'.

Words that rhyme with abeyance

conveyance, purveyance

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: abey|ance

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