• WordNet 3.6
    • n abbess the superior of a group of nuns
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Abbess ăb"bĕs 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. See Abbey.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n abbess A female superior of a convent of nuns, regularly in the same religious orders in which the monks are governed by an abbot; also, a superior of canonesses. An abbess is, in general, elected by the nuns, and is subject to the bishop of the diocese, by whom she is invested according to a special rite called the benediction of an abbess. She must be at least forty years of age, and must have been for eight years a nun in the same monastery. She has the government of the convent, with the administration of the goods of the community, but cannot, on account of her sex, exercise any of the spiritual functions pertaining to the priesthood. Sometimes civil or feudal rights have been attached to the office of abbess, as also jurisdiction over other subordinate convents.
    • n abbess A title retained in Hanover, Würtemberg, Brunswick, and Schleswig-Holstein by the lady superiors of the Protestant seminaries and sisterhoods to which the property of certain convents was transferred at the Reformation.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Abbess ab′es the female superior of a religious community of women.
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OF. abaesse, abeesse, F. abbesse, L. abbatissa, fem. of abbas, abbatis, abbot. See Abbot
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Earlier Abbatess, fem. of Abbot.


In literature:

The Abbess of the Ollioules Convent was young for an abbess, being only thirty-eight years old.
"La Sorcière: The Witch of the Middle Ages" by Jules Michelet
He was an ardent supporter of the turf, and in 1889 he won the Oaks with a mare named the Abbesse de Jouarre.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 6, Slice 3" by Various
In Spain and France certain Cistercian abbesses had extraordinary privileges.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 6, Slice 4" by Various
The Abbess told her beads.
"Devil Stories" by Various
It recounts the life and work of the Abbess Euphemia, who presided over the house from 1226 to 1257.
"Of Six Mediæval Women" by Alice Kemp-Welch
Julienne, the abbess of Cornillon near Liege.
"The Cathedrals and Churches of the Rhine" by Francis Miltoun
I wished to fly to the abbess, I wished to apply to the emperor at Mayence, indeed I scarcely knew what I wished.
"Tales from the German" by Various
Is it you, My Lady Abbess?
"Priests, Women, and Families" by J. Michelet
Christina, Abbess of Romsey.
"Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Wells" by Percy Dearmer
All the abbesses did not consider themselves slavishly bound to follow the uniform rule.
"Women of Early Christianity" by Alfred Brittain

In poetry:

I turn me from the gloom without,
To ponder o'er a tale of old;
A legend of the age of Faith,
By dreaming monk or abbess told.
"The Legend of St. Mark" by John Greenleaf Whittier
"Whence thy pale cheek? and whence, my child,
Proceeds this change?" the abbess said,
"Why heaves thy breast with deep-drawn sighs,
And wherefore droops thy youthful head?"
"Julia, or the Convent of St. Claire" by Amelia Opie
The Abbess shook off her lethargy.
"Sisters, we will walk on," said she.
Sidling away from the snowdrop bed,
The line curved forwards, the Abbess ahead.
Only Clotilde
Was the last to yield.
"The Book Of Hours Of Sister Clotilde" by Amy Lowell
The Abbess crossed herself, and each nun
Did the same, then one by one,
They filed to the chapel, that incensed prayers
Might plead for the life of this sister of theirs.
Clotilde, the Inspired!
"The Book Of Hours Of Sister Clotilde" by Amy Lowell
First comes the Abbess, preoccupied
And slow, as a woman often tried,
With her temper in bond. Then the oldest nun.
Then younger and younger, until the last one
Has a laugh on her lips,
And fairly skips.
"The Book Of Hours Of Sister Clotilde" by Amy Lowell
It came skipping over the slates of the roof,
And the bright bell-notes seemed a reproof
To grief, in the eye of so fair a day.
The Abbess, comforted, ceased to pray.
And the sun lit the flowers
In Clotilde's Book of Hours.
"The Book Of Hours Of Sister Clotilde" by Amy Lowell

In news:

Shane Abbess to direct '7th Day'.
Australian filmmaker Shane Abbess ("Gabriel") will direct "7th Day," a SciFi thriller that "Source Code" scribe Ben Ripley is writing for the Dino De Laurentiis Co.
Prophetic and bold, the 12th-century abbess Hildegard von Bingen took incredible personal risks to fight for the rights of women and the oppressed, centuries ahead of her time.