[uh-vur-nuh s]


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 formsA·ver·nal, adjective


[uh-vur-noh; Italian ah-ver-naw]


a crater lake in S Italy, near Naples and the Tyrrhenian Sea, thought by ancients to be the entrance to the underworld.
Ancient A·ver·nus.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for avernus

Historical Examples of avernus

  • In safety, as thou desirest, shall he reach the haven of Avernus.

  • Decius followed, as he would have followed through the portals of Avernus.

    The Lion's Brood

    Duffield Osborne

  • Of which lesson her own history is a part, and her habitation by the Avernus lake.

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

  • It has been said with more truth than poetic fancy that the descent to Avernus is easy.

    The Loyalist

    James Francis Barrett

British Dictionary definitions for avernus



a crater lake in Italy, near Naples: in ancient times regarded as an entrance to hellLatin name: Avernus (əˈvɜːnəs)

Word Origin for Averno

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