What does the idiom "in abeyance" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase in abeyance, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression in abeyance used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "in abeyance"


The idiom "in abeyance" refers to a temporary state of suspension or delay. It can apply to a variety of situations, such as a job, project, or legal matter that has been put on hold or postponed for a period of time, or can refer to a period of uncertainty or indecision.


The phrase "in abeyance" is derived from the Old French word "abayer," meaning "to bark or bawl." The phrase was first used in English in the mid-1500s, and by the 1600s it had come to refer to something being held in suspended action or put on indefinite hold.


The idiom "in abeyance" is most often used to refer to a state of uncertainty or delay in a situation, such as when a decision or action has been delayed or put on hold. It can also refer to a situation where two parties are in disagreement and unable to come to an agreement, or where a fixed period of time has been set and nothing will be decided until the end of that time.

Example Sentences

  • "The job offer is in abeyance until the company can make a final decision."
  • "The court's decision is in abeyance until we hear from the other side."
  • "The negotiations are in abeyance until the end of the month."

The meanings of the words in the "in abeyance" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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