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[uh-vur-nuh s] /əˈvɜr nəs/
a lake near Naples, Italy, looked upon in ancient times as an entrance to hell, from whose waters vile-smelling vapors arose, supposedly killing birds flying over it.
Origin of Avernus
< Latin < Greek áornos birdless, equivalent to a- a-6 + órn(is) bird + -os adj. suffix
Related forms
Avernal, adjective


[uh-vur-noh; Italian ah-ver-naw] /əˈvɜr noʊ; Italian ɑˈvɛr nɔ/
a crater lake in S Italy, near Naples and the Tyrrhenian Sea, thought by ancients to be the entrance to the underworld.
Ancient Avernus. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for Avernus
Historical Examples
  • Of which lesson her own history is a part, and her habitation by the Avernus lake.

    Ariadne Florentina John Ruskin
  • Last night we ascended Avernus again, and did the usual guard on the summit.

    A Yeoman's Letters P. T. Ross
  • There is the Lake of Avernus, with its splendid supply of oysters.

    The Letters of Cassiodorus Cassiodorus (AKA Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator)
  • It has been said with more truth than poetic fancy that the descent to Avernus is easy.

    The Loyalist James Francis Barrett
  • Is it not probable that Avernus, if not corrupted from ἄορνος, is related to iffrin, the Irish inferi?

  • It should be "facilis descensus Averno," easy is the descent to Avernus.

    The Short-story William Patterson Atkinson
  • Stover, like Æneas at the gates of Avernus, stood under the awful portals, ruminating uneasily on Butsey's last remark.

    The Varmint Owen Johnson
  • In safety, as thou desirest, shall he reach the haven of Avernus.

  • That visit to Avernus necessitates a stage setting and an interpretation which I will deliberately designate as intensive.

    My Recollections Jules Massenet
  • Decius followed, as he would have followed through the portals of Avernus.

    The Lion's Brood Duffield Osborne
British Dictionary definitions for Avernus


/Italian aˈvɛrno/
a crater lake in Italy, near Naples: in ancient times regarded as an entrance to hell Latin name Avernus (əˈvɜːnəs)
Word Origin
from Latin, from Greek aornos without birds, from a-1 + ornis bird; referring to the legend that the lake's sulphurous exhalations killed birds
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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