[in-fur-noh; for 3 also Italian een-fer-naw]

noun, plural in·fer·nos.

hell; the infernal regions.
a place or region that resembles hell: The ironworks was an inferno of molten steel and half-naked bodies.
(initial capital letter, italics) the first part of Dante's Divine Comedy, depicting hell and the suffering of the damned.Compare paradise(def 7), purgatory(def 2).

Origin of inferno

1825–35; < Italian < Late Latin infernus hell, noun use of Latin infernus; see infernal

Synonyms for inferno Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for inferno

purgatory, hellfire, underworld, Hades, netherworld

Examples from the Web for inferno

Contemporary Examples of inferno

Historical Examples of inferno

  • So, she went through the inferno of days and nights in a dreariness of suffering that was deadly.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • We stood now on the rim of the crater, looking straight into the inferno.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • And here, in this inferno of luggage, was White Fang deserted by the master.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • It was an inferno of shifting lights and long leaping shadows.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • What stories they had to tell of the inferno they had come from!

British Dictionary definitions for inferno


noun plural -nos

the inferno (sometimes capital) hell; the infernal region
any place or state resembling hell, esp a conflagration

Word Origin for inferno

C19: from Italian, from Late Latin infernus hell
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

Word Origin and History for inferno

1834, from Italian inferno, from Latin infernus (see infernal).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

inferno in Culture


The first section of The Divine Comedy, by Dante. Inferno is the Italian word for “hell.”


By extension, an “inferno” is a hot and terrible place or condition.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.