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See also: Heaven


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Alternative forms[edit]


From a wide variety of Middle English forms including hevene, heven, hevin, and hewin (heaven, sky), from Old English heofon, heofone (heaven, sky), from Proto-West Germanic *hebn (heaven, sky), of uncertain origin.[1]

Cognate with Scots heiven, hewin (heaven, sky), Middle Dutch heven (sky, heaven), Low German Heven (heaven, sky), Middle High German heben (sky, heaven), and possibly the rare Icelandic and Old Norse hifinn (heaven, sky), which are all probably dissimilated forms of the Germanic root which appears in Old Norse himinn (heaven, sky), Gothic 𐌷𐌹𐌼𐌹𐌽𐍃 (himins, heaven, sky), Old Swedish himin, Old Danish himæn and probably also (in another variant form) Old Saxon himil, Old Dutch himil (modern Dutch hemel), and Old High German himil (German Himmel).[1]

Accepting these as cognates, some scholars propose a further derivation from Proto-Germanic *himinaz (cover, cloud cover, firmament, sky, heaven).[2][1]


  • IPA(key): /ˈhɛvən/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: heav‧en
  • Rhymes: -ɛvən


English Wikipedia has an article on:

heaven (countable and uncountable, plural heavens)

  1. The sky, specifically:
    1. (dated or poetic, now usually in the plural) The distant sky in which the sun, moon, and stars appear or move; the firmament; the celestial spheres.
      • 1535, Coverdale Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1:
        All that is vnder the heauen.
      • 1585, Nicholas de Nicolay, translated by Thomas Washington, The nauigations, peregrinations and voyages, made into Turkie by Nicholas Nicholay, I vi 4:
        The ordinaunce...made such a great noyse and thunderyng that it seemed the heaven would have fallen.
      • 1594, Thomas Blundeville, M. Blundeuile his Exercises, act I scene 3:
        In ascending orderly vpwardes...The first is the Spheare of the Moone...The seuenth the Spheare of Saturne, The eight the Spheare of the fixed Starres, commonly called the firmament. The ninth is called the second moueable or Christall heauen, The tenth is called the first moueable, and the eleuenth is called the Emperiall heauen, where God and his Angels are said to dwell.
      • c. 1594 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Comedie of Errors”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene i]:
        What obscured light the heauens did grant.
      • 1625, Nathanæl Carpenter, chapter 4, in Geography delineated forth in two bookes, volume I, page 77:
        The Heauens...are carried in 24 houres from East to West.
      • 1656, Tho[mas] Stanley, “[The Doctrine of Plato Delivered by Alcinous.] Chapter XIV. Of the Soul of the World, the Sphears and Stars.”, in The History of Philosophy, the Second Volume, volume II, London: [] Humphrey Moseley, and Thomas Dring: [], →OCLC, 5th part (Containing the Academick Philosophers), page 74:
        God framed alſo the Stars and conſtellations; ſome fixed for the Ornament of Heaven and might, very many in number.
      • 1930 March, Nature, 179 2:
        The moon's path lies in that belt of the heavens known as the zodiac.
      • 1981, E.R. Harrison, Cosmology, XII 250:
        In an infinite...universe the stars would collectively outshine the Sun and flood the heavens with light far more intense than is observed.
      • 2006, Peter Carroll translating a maxim of the Southern Song dynasty in Between Heaven and Modernity: Reconstructing Suzhou, 1895–1937:
        Above is Heaven, Below are Suzhou and Hangzhou
    2. (obsolete) The near sky in which weather, flying animals, etc. appear; (obsolete) the atmosphere; the climate.
    3. (obsolete) A model displaying the movement of the celestial bodies, an orrery.
      • 1600, Thomas Nashe, Summers Last Will:
        Euery man cannot, with Archimedes, make a heauen of brasse.
  2. (religion) The abode of God or the gods, traditionally conceived as beyond the sky; especially:
    1. (Christianity, usually capitalized) The abode of God and of the angels and saints in His presence.
    2. (religion, by extension, often capitalized) The abode of the Abrahamic God; similar abodes of the gods in other religions and traditions, such as Mount Olympus.
      • c. 1588–1593 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene iii]:
        With Ioue in heauen, or some where else.
      • 1649, Alexander Ross translating the Sieur Du Ryer, The Alcoran Of Mahomet, Translated out of the Arabique into French... newly Englished, 406:
        As he [Muhammad] was returning, in the fourth Heaven, Moses advised him to goe back to God.
      • 1832, Charles Coleman, The Mythology of the Hindus, XIII 220:
        Like the Buddhas, they [the Jains] believe that there is a plurality of heavens and hells.
      • 1841, Mountstuart Elphinstone, The History of India, I ii iv 169:
        The heaven of Siva is in the midst of the eternal snows and glaciers of Keilás, one of the highest and deepest groups of the stupendous summits of Hémaláya.
      • 2011, Lillian Tseng, Picturing Heaven in Early China, section 2:
        To grasp the Chinese's notion of Heaven, we must look at the contexts in which tian is used... In the Book of Odes (Shi jing 詩經), which includes poems dated between the eleventh and seventh centuries BCE, tian is a place where the Heavenly Thearch resides.
    3. (by extension, usually capitalized) Providence, the will of God or the council of the gods; fate.
  3. (religion) The afterlife of the blessed dead, traditionally conceived as opposed to an afterlife of the wicked and unjust (compare hell); specifically:
    • 1925 July 1, Ernest Hemingway, letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald:
      I wonder what your idea of heaven would be—A beautiful vacuum filled with wealthy monogamists, all powerful and members of the best families drinking themselves to death. And hell would probably be an ugly vacuum full of poor polygamists unable to obtain booze... To me heaven would be a big bull ring with me holding two barrera seats and a trout stream outside that no one else was allowed to fish in and two lovely houses in the town; one where I would have my wife and children and be monogamous and love them truly and well and the other where I would have my nine beautiful mistresses on 9 different floors...
    1. (Christianity, Islam) Paradise, the afterlife of the souls who are not sent to a place of punishment or purification such as hell, purgatory, or limbo; the state or condition of being in the presence of God after death.
    2. (religion, by extension, often capitalized) The afterlife of the blessed dead in other religions and traditions, such as the Pure Land or Elysium.
      • 2011, Lillian Tseng, Picturing Heaven in Early China, section 3:
        The belief in ascending to Heaven after death became widespread in the Han dynasty.
  4. (by extension) Any paradise; any blissful place or experience.
    • c. 1595–1596 (date written), William Shakespeare, “A Midsommer Nights Dreame”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene i]:
      Ile follow thee and make a heauen of hell.
    • 1660 November 14, a speech in the House of Commons in W. Cobbett, Parl. Hist. (1808), IV 145:
      England, that was formerly the heaven, would be now the hell for women.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book I”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      The mind is its own place, and in it self
      Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
    • 1782, F. Burney, Cecilia, I iii iv 51:
      Such a shop as that...would be quite a heaven upon earth to me.
    • 1940, H.G. Wells, Babes in the Darkling Wood, II iii 198:
      They thought strikes and hunger marches the quintessence of politics and Soviet Russia heaven on earth.
    • 2002, Summersill Elementary School, Time Travel, iUniverse, →ISBN, page 16:
      While eating my snack I decided to walk around the house and I saw the hallways change into beautiful valleys and oceans. The television screen appeared on the wall. It was so beautiful that I thought I was in heaven.
  5. (by extension) A state of bliss; a peaceful ecstasy.
    • 1550, J. Heywood, Dialogue Prov. Eng. Tongue, II vii:
      Husbandes are in heauen...whose wiues scold not.
    • 1809 October 26, William Wordsworth, “The French Revolution as It Appeared to Enthusiasts at Its Commencement”, in Friend, No. 11, ll. 4-5:
      Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
      But to be young was very heaven!
    • 2000, Veronica Brooks, It Could Lead to Dancing, iUniverse, →ISBN, page 18:
      He would just stare at me and say, “You are beautiful, you are so beautiful.” I was in heaven hearing this.
    • 2002, DJ Sammy, Yanou, Frank Reinert, Bryan Adams, Jim Vallance, Bob Clearmountain (lyrics and music), “Heaven”, in Heaven, performed by Yanou and Do (singer), Title track:
      We're in heaven.
    • 2007, Jackie Collins, Drop Dead Beautiful: A Novel, St. Martin's Publishing Group, →ISBN, page 452:
      She was in heaven — she'd never seen so many stars gathered in one place. She already had her eye on Charlie Dollar. Oh yes, Charlie Dollar might be ancient, but he was still raging hot in a Jack Nicholson kind of way.
    • 2008, Robert Scott, Driven To Murder, Pinnacle Books, →ISBN, page 163:
      “Because she was modest and beautiful and he thought he was in heaven when she was around?” “Yes, that's what he said.”
    • 2014, Joe Satriani, Jake Brown, Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir, BenBella Books, →ISBN, page 8:
      I'd turn it up to 10 and it sounded all distorted and I remember feeling like I was in heaven!
  6. (informal, with a modifier) Similarly blissful afterlives, places, or states for particular people, animals, or objects.
    • 1867, J.W. De Forest, Miss Ravenel's Conversion, XXVI 368:
      Perhaps it has gone to the dog heaven, and is wagging somewhere in glory.
    • 1879 February, J. H. Payne, Scribner's Monthly, 470 2:
      His pet name for Easthampton is ‘Goose-heaven’, and he harps upon the idea eternally.
    • 1908 October 5, Chicago Tribune, 3 1:
      One gray beard who found the gates closed shinned up the fifteen foot fence...and dropped into the baseball heaven he was seeking.
    • 1972, M. Sanders, Flash:
      The Dave Clark 5 deserve a place in Rock & Roll Heaven right along there beside Question Mark & The Mysterians, the Standells, Count Five, the Troggs, and the Music Machine.
    • 1986 February 3, Newsweek, section 70:
      The building was once a candy factory, which makes it, Frazier says, mouse heaven.
    • 2003 August 1, Church Times, 28 3:
      Ricky bumps it into the garden, and tells me it is going to ‘the cooker heaven’. ‘Where it will be this size,’ adds his wife, her hands making the size of a brick. She means that it is off to the squasher.
    • 2004 July 17, Western Mail, Cardiff, section 15:
      Goronwy has gone to goldfish heaven where he is swimming in a beautiful clear blue ocean with all the other fishies.

Usage notes[edit]

Frequently capitalized as 'Heaven' in all senses when regarded as a proper name.

When used as a synonym for the impersonal sky, the word has typically been plural ("heavens" or "the heavens") since the 17th century, except in poetry.



  • (antonym(s) of paradise): hell
  • (antonym(s) of blissful place or experience): horror, nightmare


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



heaven (third-person singular simple present heavens, present participle heavening, simple past and past participle heavened)[1]

  1. (obsolete) To transport to the abode of God, the gods, or the blessed.
    • 1614, Thomas Adams, The divells banket described in sixe sermons, II 81:
      He heauens himselfe on earth, & for a litle pelfe cousens himselfe of blisse.
  2. (obsolete) To beatify, enchant, or please greatly.
    • 1924 April 13, Observer, 12 4:
      They [Byron's Tales]...enraptured the public and heavened Murray.
  3. (obsolete) To beautify, to make into a paradise.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Oxford English Dictionary. "Heaven, v."
  2. ^ Gerhard Köbler, Altenglisches Wörterbuch, entry "heofon"


Middle English[edit]



  1. (Late Middle English) Rare form of hevene.