• WordNet 3.6
    • n byssus tuft of strong filaments by which e.g. a mussel makes itself fast to a fixed surface
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Byssus A cloth of exceedingly fine texture, used by the ancients. It is disputed whether it was of cotton, linen, or silk.
    • Byssus (Zoöl) A tuft of long, tough filaments which are formed in a groove of the foot, and issue from between the valves of certain bivalve mollusks, as the Pinna and Mytilus, by which they attach themselves to rocks, etc.
    • Byssus (Bot) An obsolete name for certain fungi composed of slender threads.
    • Byssus Asbestus.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n byssus Among the ancients, originally, a fine yellowish flax, especially Indian and Egyptian, and the linen made from it, such as the Egyptian mummy-cloth; afterward, also, cotton and silk (the latter, before its origin was known, being taken for a kind of cotton).
    • n byssus One of the byssi, a name formerly given by botanists to a heterogeneous collection of filamentous cryptogamic plants.
    • n byssus In conchology, a long, delicate, lustrous, and silky bunch of filaments, secreted by the foot, and serving as a means of attachment to other Objects. It is developed in various dissimilar bivalve mollusks, especially by species of the families Mytilidæ, Pinnidæ, Aviculidæ, Limidæ, Arcidæ, Tridacnidæ, etc. That of the Pinna is capable of being woven. See Pinna, and also cuts under Dreissenidæ and Tridacnidæ.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Byssus bis′us a fine yellowish flax, and the linen made from it: the bundle of fine silky filaments by which many shellfish attach themselves to rocks, &c.: a genus of cryptogamic plants of a silky fibrous texture found on decaying wood, in mines, &c., and other dark places
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. byssus, fine flax, fine linen or cotton, Gr. by`ssos
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L.—Gr. byssos, a fine flaxen or silky substance.


In literature:

He sat bare-headed beneath a parasol of byssus which was carried by a Negro behind him.
"Salammbo" by Gustave Flaubert
They are evidently of the nature of a byssus.
"Narrative Of The Voyage Of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Commanded By The Late Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S. Etc. During The Years 1846-1850. Including Discoveries And Surveys In New Guinea, The Louisiade Archipelago, Etc. To Which Is Added The Account Of Mr. E.B. Kennedy's Expedition For The Exploration Of The Cape York Peninsula. By John Macgillivray, F.R.G.S. Naturalist To The Expedition. In Two Volumes. Volume 1." by John MacGillivray
Once I had to flee naked from my country, and now I am the possessor of splendid raiment, and of apparel made of the finest byssus.
"The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians" by E. A. Wallis Budge
From her shoulders fell a long full robe of purple byssus, over an underdress of white which readied the knee.
"Idolatry" by Julian Hawthorne
The silky filaments or byssus by which some testacea adhere to rocks.
"The Sailor's Word-Book" by William Henry Smyth
Byssus, a fine filamentous mass.
"The Mushroom, Edible and Otherwise" by M. E. Hard
The foot has a byssus gland on its posterior surface.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 6, Slice 6" by Various
The byssus is unknown to us, but the stuffs of Lyons are more valuable.
"A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 1 (of 10)" by François-Marie Arouet (AKA Voltaire)
The mummy lay on a mattress of striped byssus, the head on a byssus pillow.
"The Tour" by Louis Couperus
He might only wear linen clothing (byssus), and shoes of papyrus.
"The History of Antiquity, Vol. I (of VI)" by Max Duncker