- temporary inactivity, cessation, or suspension: Let’s hold that problem in abeyance for a while.
- Law. a state or condition of real property in which title is not as yet vested in a known titleholder: an estate in abeyance.
- (usually preceded by in or into) a state of being suspended or put aside temporarily
- (usually preceded by in) law an indeterminate state of ownership, as when the person entitled to an estate has not been ascertained
1520s, from Anglo-French abeiance “suspension,” also “expectation (especially in a lawsuit),” from Old French abeance “aspiration, desire,” noun of condition of abeer “aspire after, gape” from à “at” (see ad-) + ba(y)er “be open,” from Latin *batare “to yawn, gape” (see abash).
Originally in French a legal term, “condition of a person in expectation or hope of receiving property;” it turned around in English law to mean “condition of property temporarily without an owner” (1650s). Root baer is also the source of English bay (n.2) “recessed space,” as in “bay window.”