From Middle English firmament, furmament (“heaven; sky”), from Old French firmament (“firmament”), or from its etymon Latin firmāmentum (“support; sky”), from firmāre (“to strengthen”) + -mentum (suffix indicating an instrument or medium, or the result of an action). Firmāre is the present active infinitive of firmō (“to make firm, strengthen”), from firmus (“firm, strong, stable”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *dʰer- (“to hold; to support”).
The Latin word was used in the Vulgate version of the Bible to translate the Ancient Greek στερέωμα (steréōma, “foundation, framework; firmament”) in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), which in turn was used to translate the Hebrew רָקִיעַ (rāqī́aʿ, “celestial dome, vault of heaven”), from the root ר־ק־ע (r-q-`); in Classical Syriac the similar root ܪ-ܩ-ܥ (r-q-ʿ) (related to compacting) gave rise to ܪܩܝܥܐ (rəqīʿā, “compact; firm; firmament, heavens, sky; celestial sphere”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈfɜːməm(ə)nt/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈfɝməmənt/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Hyphenation: fir‧ma‧ment
- (usually uncountable, literary, poetic, also figuratively) The vault of the heavens, where the clouds, sun, moon, and stars can be seen; the heavens, the sky.
- 1560, [William Whittingham et al., transl.], The Bible and Holy Scriptures Conteyned in the Olde and Newe Testament. […] (the Geneva Bible), Geneva: […] Rouland Hall, OCLC 557472409, Daniél XII:3, folio 364, verso:
- And thei that be wiſe, ſhal ſhine, as the brightnes of the firmament: & they that turne to righteouſnes, ſhal ſhine as the ſtarres, for euer and euer.
- c. 1599–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke: […] (Second Quarto), London: […] I[ames] R[oberts] for N[icholas] L[ing] […], published 1604, OCLC 760858814, [Act II, scene ii]:
- [T]his moſt excellent Canopie the ayre, looke you, this braue orehanging firmament, this maieſticall roofe fretted with golden fire, why it appeareth nothing to me but a foule and peſtilent congregation of vapoures.
- 1609, Everie VVoman in Her Humor, London: […] E[dward] A[llde] for Thomas Archer, […], OCLC 55193753; reprinted as John S. Farmer, editor, Every Woman in Her Humor (The Tudor Facsimile Texts), [Amersham, Buckinghamshire]: [John S. Farmer] […], 1913, OCLC 974756059:
- Now to ye all, be firmaments to ſtars, / Be ſtars to Firmaments, and as you are / Splendent, ſo be fixed, not wandring, nor / Irregular, both keeping courſe together, [...]
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981, Genesis 1:6–8:
- And God ſaid, Let there be a firmament in the midſt of the waters: and let it diuide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament; and diuided the waters, which were under the firmament, from the waters, which were aboue the firmament: and it was ſo. And God called the firmament, Heauen: and the euening and the morning were the ſecond day.
- 1667, John Milton, “Book II”, in Paradise Lost. […], London: […] [Samuel Simmons], […], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554, lines 174–175:
- [W]hat if all / Her ſtores were op'n'd, and this Firmament / Of Hell ſhould ſpout her Cataracts of Fire, [...]
- 1678, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That which is to Come: […], London: […] Nath[aniel] Ponder […], OCLC 228725984; reprinted in The Pilgrim’s Progress as Originally Published by John Bunyan: Being a Fac-simile Reproduction of the First Edition, London: Elliot Stock […], 1875, OCLC 222146756, page 11:
- There are Crowns of Glory to be given us; and Garments that will make us ſhine like the Sun in the Firmament of Heaven.
- 1742, [Edward Young], “Night the Ninth and Last. The Consolation. Containing, among Other Things, I. A Moral Survey of the Nocturnal Heavens. II. A Night-Address to the Deity. […]”, in The Complaint: Or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality, London: […] [Samuel Richardson] for A[ndrew] Millar […], and R[obert] Dodsley […], published 1750, OCLC 753424981, page 357:
- On Nature's Alps I ſtand, / And ſee a Thouſand Firmaments beneath!
- 1825 January, H. G. B., “The Bride of Parma”, in The Edinburgh Magazine, and Literary Miscellany; […], volume XVI, Edinburgh: […] Archibald Constable and Company, OCLC 221608863, page 68, column 2:
- And far above the gentle moon sails on / Through the blue firmament. It is a scene / That gives that spot of earth the air of Heav'n!
- 1831, James Bell, “[Chinese Empire.] Chapter IV.”, in A System of Geography, Popular and Scientific, […], volume V, Glasgow: Archibald Fullarton and Co. and Blackie and Son; […], OCLC 1015512136, page 34:
- Some of his [Confucius's] philosophical principles are, [...] that the cause or principle of things must have had a co-existence with the things themselves; [...] and that the central point of influence, from which this cause chiefly acts, is the blue firmament (tien), whence its emanations are spread over the universe; [...] the sun, moon, stars, and elements, are considered also as composing the firmament, or Teen, as the immediate agents of the Deity, and as the productive powers in creation.
- 1872, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter XXIV, in Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, volume II, Edinburgh; London: William Blackwood and Sons, OCLC 948783829, book III (Waiting for Death), page 46:
- But there was no spirit of denial in Caleb, and the world seemed so wondrous to him that he was ready to accept any number of systems, like any number of firmaments, if they did not obviously interfere with the best land-drainage, solid building, correct measuring, and judicious boring (for coal).
- 2002, Barbara Kingsolver, “Small Wonder”, in Small Wonder: Essays, New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins, published 2009, →ISBN:
- The feeling I dread the most is not fear but despair—the dim, oppressive sense that the more things change, the more they stay the same; that each of us with a frozen heart "like an old-stone savage armed" will continue to move in darkness, lifting boulders, patrolling the firmaments of divisive anger.
- 2013, Alexander Miller, “The Development of Theories of Meaning: From Frege to McDowell and Beyond”, in Michael Beaney, editor, The Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, part II (The Development of Analytic Philosophy), page 658:
- [...] 'The Morning Star' and 'The Evening Star' have the same celestial object as Bedeutung, but present that object in different ways, perhaps in one case as the object that appears in such and such a place in the morning firmament and in the other as the object that appears in such and such a place in the evening firmament.
- (countable) The field or sphere of an activity or interest.
- the international fashion firmament
- 1997, Michael Schaller, “Japan: From Enemy to Ally, 1945–50”, in Altered States: The United States and Japan since the Occupation, New York, N.Y.; Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 7:
- Europe dominated foreign policy concerns, followed by the Near East and China, where General George C[atlett] Marshall tried, in vain, to mediate a civil war. Japan glowed dimly in the foreign policy firmament.
- 1999, Shannon Wiley, “Introduction”, in Seaford, Delaware (Images of America), Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, published 2001, →ISBN, page 8:
- By this time, Seaford was a town of 2,000 people, and, in the next decade, the poultry industry became a rising star in the firmament of economic growth as new housing and feeding techniques were introduced.
- 2008, Adrienne L. McLean, “A Channel for Progress: Theatrical Dance, Popular Culture, and (The) American Ballet”, in Dying Swans and Madmen: Ballet, the Body, and Narrative Cinema, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, →ISBN, page 40:
- She [Anna Pavlova] provided articulate, well-thought-out and educational interviews and articles from her first appearances in which she would lay out her life story, the course of her training, the place of ballet in the European and Russian artistic firmaments.
- (uncountable, astronomy, historical) In the geocentric Ptolemaic system, the eighth celestial sphere which carried the fixed stars; (countable, by extension) any celestial sphere.
- 1638, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Ayre Rectified. With a Digression of the Ayre.”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy. […], 5th edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed [by Robert Young, Miles Flesher, and Leonard Lichfield and William Turner] for Henry Cripps, OCLC 932915040, partition 2, section 2, member 3, page 254:
- [B]etweene the ſphere of Saturne and the Firmament, there is ſuch an incredible and vaſt ſpace or diſtance (7000000. ſemidiameters of the earth, as Tycho [Brahe] calculates) void of ſtarres: [...]
- 1712 July 13 (Gregorian calendar), Joseph Addison, “WEDNESDAY, July 2, 1712. Paper X. On the Pleasures of the Imagination.”, in The Spectator, number 420; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, […], volume IV, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, OCLC 191120697, page 79:
- But if we yet rise higher, and consider the fixed stars as so many vast oceans of flame, that are each of them attended with a different set of planets, and still discover new firmaments and new lights, that are sunk farther in those unfathomable depths of ether, so as not to be seen by the strongest of our telescopes, we are lost in such a labyrinth of suns and worlds, and confounded with the immensity and magnificence of nature.
- 1715, H[enry] Curson, “A Cosmographical Introduction to the Geographical Description of the World”, in A New Description of the World. […], 2nd edition, […] Benj[amin] Barker, […], OCLC 15216563:
- The World Cœlestial. Containing 11 Sphæres or Heavens, ſay the Theologians and Aſtronomers. [...] Theſe are called the Primum Mobile, the Chriſtaline Heaven, the Firmament adorned with the Fixed Stars, and the Heavens of the Seven Planets.
- (uncountable, obsolete except biblical) The abode of God and the angels; heaven.
- (countable, obsolete) A piece of jewellery worn in a headdress with numerous gems resembling stars in the sky.
- 1690, [Mary Evelyn], “A Voyage to Marryland; or, The Ladies Dressing-room”, in [John Evelyn], editor, Mundus Muliebris: Or, The Ladies Dressing-room Unlock’d, and Her Toilette Spread. […], London: […] R[ichard] Bentley […], OCLC 562942240; reprinted Saint Peter Port, Guernsey: The Toucan Press, 1978, →ISBN, page 7:
- Pins tipt with Diamond Point, and head, / By which the Curls are faſtened, / In radiant Firmament ſet out, / And all over the Hood ſur-tout: [...]
- [1690, [Mary Evelyn], “The Fop-dictionary. […]”, in [John Evelyn], editor, Mundus Muliebris: Or, The Ladies Dressing-room Unlock’d, and Her Toilette Spread. […], London: […] R[ichard] Bentley […], OCLC 562942240; reprinted Saint Peter Port, Guernsey: The Toucan Press, 1978, →ISBN, page 18:
- Firmament. Diamonds, or other precious Stones heading the Pins which they stick into the Tour, and Hair, like Stars.]
- (countable, obsolete, also figuratively) A basis or foundation; a support.
- 2012 January 25, Josh Brown, “Perhaps I’ve Been a Bit too Harsh …”, in Wealth Manager Blog, The Wall Street Journal, archived from the original on 8 December 2013:
- Ten years ago, the Wall Street wirehouse brokerage firm seemed unassailable – part of the very firmament underpinning the entire investment industry from coast to coast.
- (countable, obsolete) The act or process of making firm or strengthening.
- ^ From Petrus Apianus; Gemma Frisius (1539) Petri Apiani cosmographia, per Gemmam Phrysium, apud Louanienses medicum ac mathematicum insignem, restituta: additis de adem re ipsius Gemmae Phry. libellis, ut sequens pagina docet, Antwerp: In pingui gallina Arnoldo Berckma[n]no [Arnold Birckmann], OCLC 1113627241.
- (Balearic) IPA(key): /fiɾ.məˈment/
- (Central) IPA(key): /fir.məˈmen/
- (Valencian) IPA(key): /fiɾ.maˈment/
firmament m (plural firmaments)
- “firmament” in Diccionari de la llengua catalana, segona edició, Institut d’Estudis Catalans.
- “firmament”, in Gran Diccionari de la Llengua Catalana, Grup Enciclopèdia Catalana, 2023
- “firmament” in Diccionari normatiu valencià, Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua.
- “firmament” in Diccionari català-valencià-balear, Antoni Maria Alcover and Francesc de Borja Moll, 1962.
From Middle Dutch firmament, from Latin firmāmentum, coined by Jerome in the Vulgate to render Ancient Greek στερέωμα (steréōma, “firm or solid structure”), which in turn translates Hebrew רקיע (“vault of heaven”).
firmament n (plural firmamenten)
- firmament (vault or sphere of the heavens, seen as solid in older cosmologies; sky)
- → Papiamentu: firmament (dated)
firmament m (plural firmaments)
- “firmament”, in Trésor de la langue française informatisé [Digitized Treasury of the French Language], 2012.
Audio (Béarn) (file)
firmament m (plural firmaments)
- Joan de Cantalausa (2006) Diccionari general occitan a partir dels parlars lengadocians, 2 edition, →ISBN, page 484.
firmament m inan
- firmament in Wielki słownik języka polskiego, Instytut Języka Polskiego PAN
- firmament in Polish dictionaries at PWN
firmament n (uncountable)