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Word of the Day
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Definitions for Phlegethon

  1. (often lowercase) a stream of fire or fiery light.
  2. Classical Mythology. a river of fire, one of five rivers surrounding Hades. Also called Pyriphlegethon.

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Citations for Phlegethon
And now Atal, slipping dizzily up over inconceivable steeps, heard in the dark a loathsome laughing, mixed with such a cry as no man else ever heard save in the Phlegethon of unrelatable nightmares ... H. P. Lovecraft, "The Other Gods," The Fantasy Fan, November 1933
Looking down from this pinnacle upon the howling Phlegethon below, I could not help smiling at the simplicity with which the honest Jonas Ramus records, a matter difficult of belief, the anecdotes of the whales and the bears ... Edgar Allen Poe, "A Descent into the Maelström," Graham's Magazine, May 1841
Origin of Phlegethon
Phlegethon is the name of the fiery river surrounding Hades. In form it is the present active participle “burning, flaming” of the infinitive phlegéthein, a Greek verb used only in poetry for the “prosaic” phlégein. The Greek root phleg- derives from the complicated Proto-Indo-European root bhel-, “to burn, shine, flash,” which has many variants (e.g., bhlē-) and extended forms (e.g., bhleg-). Phlegethon, spelled Flegeton, entered English in the poetry of John Gower (c.1325–1408).