In Portuguese (Brazil) Inferno means Hell, but I have seen this word in another context, like in games… but I think it does not have the same definition. Is Inferno the same as Hell?

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    That's the general connotation, yes, after Dante's famous work Inferno. But it originally simply meant furnace, and sometimes in English it is used devoid of any religious or literary overtones: simply a very hot place, a burning place.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 11:15
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    I live in the US, and Inferno simply means a large fire, or a large place on fire - it doesn't mean hell. It can also be used to mean "chaos", as in "her thoughts became an inferno", meaning "her thoughts became chaotic"
    – Jojodmo
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 18:22

1 Answer 1


Infernus (Latin) meant underground, of the lower regions, from inferus/infra, meaning below (as in inferior/infrastructure*.)

Inferno is Italian, from Late Latin infernalis "of the lower regions," so originally it referred to the underworld. Since Catholicism emphasized the fiery nature of Hell, inferno came to mean hell, and this use was immortalized by Dante Alighieri in his famous poem The Divine Comedy (written 1308 -1320) (part I: Inferno).

Modern usage of inferno is to connote a particularly hot or dangerous fire, or a place of great human suffering (the final circle of hell is a frozen lake):

of or pertaining to or characteristic of a very uncontrolled and intense fire; a place or condition suggestive of hell, especially with respect to human suffering or death; a place or region that resembles hell, esp. in intense heat. -TFD

"The fire on Thursday afternoon began with an explosion at 121 Second Avenue and grew to an inferno engulfing four neighboring buildings." - NYT

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