a woman who is head of an abbey of nuns
Origin of abbessMiddle English abbes from Old French abesse from Ecclesiastical Late Latin abbatissa, feminine of abbas, abbot
- The superior of a convent.
- Used as a title for such a person.
Origin of abbessMiddle English abesse from Old French from Late Latin abbātissa from abbās abbāt- abbot ; see abbot .
From Middle English abbesse, from Old French abaesse, abeesse (French abbesse), from Late Latin abbatissa, feminine of abbas, abbatis (“abbot”).