1. An edifice or place full of intricate passageways which render it difficult to find the way from the interior to the entrance; as, the egyptian and Cretan labyrinths.
2. Any intricate or involved inclosure; especially, an ornamental maze or inclosure in a park or garden.
3. Any object or arrangement of an intricate or involved form, or having a very complicated nature. The serpent . . . Fast sleeping soon he found, in labyrinth of many a round self-rolled. (Milton) The labyrinth of the mind. (Tennyson)
4. An inextricable or bewildering difficulty. I’ the maze and winding labyrinths o’ the world. (Denham)
5. (Science: anatomy) The internal ear. See note under ear.
6. (Science: chemistry) a series of canals through which a stream of water is directed for suspending, carrying off, and depositing at different distances, the ground ore of a metal.
7. A pattern or design representing a maze, often inlaid in the tiled floor of a church, etc.
Synonym: maze, confusion, intricacy, windings.
labyrinth, maze. Labyrinth, originally; the name of an edifice or excavation, carries the idea of design, and construction in a permanent form, while maze is used of anything confused or confusing, whether fixed or shifting. Maze is less restricted in its figurative uses than labyrinth. We speak of the labyrinth of the ear, or of the mind, and of a labyrinth of difficulties; but of the mazes of the dance, the mazes of political intrigue, or of the mind being in a maze.
Origin: L. Labyrinthus, gr. Labyrinthos: cf. F. Labyrinthe.