a. An intricate structure of interconnecting passages through which it is difficult to find one's way; a maze.
b. Labyrinth Greek Mythology The maze in which the Minotaur was confined.
2. A design consisting of a single unbranching but highly convoluted path leading from the outside to the center of a usually circular or square space.
3. Something highly intricate or convoluted in character, composition, or construction: a labyrinth of rules and regulations.
a. A group of complex interconnecting anatomical cavities.
b. See inner ear.
[Middle English laberinthe, from Latin labyrinthus, from Greek laburinthos; possibly akin to labrus, double-headed axe (used as a ritual weapon and a sign of authority in Minoan civilization, so that Greek laburinthos may originally have designated a Minoan palace as "the house of the double-headed axe"), of Lydian origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.