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ab·bess [ab-is]
noun

  1. a woman who is the superior of a convent of nuns.

Origin

1275–1325; Middle English abbesse < Old French abbesse, abaesse < Late Latin abbātissa, feminine of abbās abbot; replacing Middle English abbatisse < Late Latin; in turn replacing Old English abadisse, abbodesse (compare Old High German abbatissa ) < Late Latin *ab ( b ) adissa for abbātissa