English [ edit ]
Alternative forms [ edit ]
Etymology [ edit ]
From a wide variety of
forms including Middle English , heven , hevin heuen , and hewin ( “ heaven, sky ” ), from Old English heofon ( “ heaven, sky ” ), of uncertain origin.
Cognate with Scots
, hevin hewin ( “ heaven, sky ” ), Low German hēven ( “ heaven, sky ” ), Old Saxon heƀan ( “ heaven, sky ” ), and possibly the rare and Icelandic Old Norse hifinn ( “ heaven, sky ” ), which are 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 and probably also (in another variant form) himæn Old Saxon , himil Old Dutch (modern himil Dutch ) hemel , and Old High German ( himil German ). Himmel
Accepting these as cognates, some scholars propose a further derivation from
Proto-Germanic *heminaz ( “ cover, heaven, sky ” ). 
Pronunciation [ edit ]
heaven ( , countable and uncountable plural )
( dated , now usually plural ) The distant sky in which the sun, moon, and stars appear or move; the firmament; the celestial spheres.
1535, Coverdale Bible, Ecclesiastes III 1:
All that is vnder the heauen.
1585, Thomas Washington translating Nicholas de Nicolay, 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, I iii 136:
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, William Shakespeare, , I i 66:
The Comedie of Errors What obscured light the heauens did grant.
1625, Nathanæl Carpenter, Geography delineated forth in two bookes, I iv 77:
The Heauens...are carried in 24 houres from East to West.
1656, Thomas Stanley, The History of Philosophy, II v 74:
Stars and constellations; some fixed for the Ornament of Heaven
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
( obsolete ) The near sky in which weather, flying animals, etc. appear; ( obsolete ) the atmosphere; the climate.
c. 1382, Wycliffe's Bible, Job XXXV 11:
The bestis of the erthe...the foulis of heuene
1581, George Pettie translating Stefano Guazzo, Ciuile Conuersation, I 26:
Everie... Countrie, by the nature of the place, the climate of the Heaven, and the influence of the starres hath certaine vertues.
c. 1597, William Shakespeare, , IV i:
The comicall Historie of the Merchant of Venice The qualitie of mercie is not ſtraind, it droppeth as the gentle raine from heauen vpon the place beneath 1660, George Mackenzie, Religio Stoici, II 44:
Fellow-believers...fed the birds of heaven with the carcases of pious and reverend Church-men. ( 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.
( religion ) The abode of God or the gods, traditionally conceived as beyond the sky; especially:
( Christianity , usually capitalized ) The abode of God and of the angels and saints in His presence.
1560, Geneva Bible, Revelation XII 7–8:
And there was a battel in heauen. Michael & his Angels foght againſt the dragon, and the dragon foght & his Angels. But they preuailed not, nether was their place founde anie more in heauen.
1644, Samuel Rutherford, , V 16:
Lex, Rex: The Law and the Prince Conſider firſt that the excommunicated Prelate ſaith... Kings are not Moſes, Saul, David, immediatly from God, as by any ſpeciall Ordinance ſent from Heaven by the miniſtery of Angels and Prophets, there were but ſome few ſuch, as etc.
1667, John Milton, , I 263:
Paradise Lost Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n. 1906 July 30, Washington Post, 12 4:
Christ's coming from the heavens has entered into the life of humanity as the Founder of the world to come.
( 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. 1379,, Geoffrey Chaucer, , 164:
The House of Fame Venus... Doun fro the heven gan descende.
c. 1382, Wycliffe's Bible, Jeremiah VII 18:
Thei make sweete cakis to the quen of heuene [ ] Astarte
1594, William Shakespeare, , IV iii 41:
Titus Andronicus With Ioue in heauen, or some where else.
1649, Alexander Ross translating the Sieur Du Ryer, The , 406:
Alcoran Of Mahomet, Translated out of the Arabique into French... newly Englished 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 ] believe that there is a plurality of Jains 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, 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. ( by extension , usually capitalized ) Providence, the will of God or the council of the gods; fate.
c. 1604, William Shakespeare, , III iv:
All's Well, that Ends Well ...he cannot thriue, Vnlesse her prayers, whom heauen delights to heare And loues to grant, repreeue him from the wrath Of greatest Iustice.
1611, King James Bible, Daniel iv 26:
After that thou shalt haue knowen that the heauens doe rule.
1667, John Milton, , I 212:
Paradise Lost ...The will And high permission of all-ruling Heaven.
1793, Henry Boyd, Poems, II iv 270:
Heaven commands thine arm To lift the sure-destroying sword!
1886 May 8, The Pall Mall Gazette, 1 1:
...executing the just judgment of offended Heaven upon cattle- houghers, traitors, and assassins.
1992, W.S. Wilson translating E. Yoshikawa, Taiko, II 186:
There's nothing we can do but pray to heaven for good luck. 2011, Lillian Tseng, Picturing Heaven in Early China, 3:
Cosmologists regarded Heaven as a force—composed of qi 氣, which was divided into yin 陰 and yang 陽 aspects—that kept the cosmos moving. ( religion ) The afterlife of the blessed dead, traditionally conceived as opposed to an afterlife of the wicked and unjust ( compare ); specifically:
( Christianity , Islam ) 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.
1544, Richard Tracy, A supplycacion to our moste soueraigne lorde Kynge henry the eyght Kynge of England of Fraunce and of Irelande, C:
Teache the people to gett heuen with fastynge.
1597, William Shakespeare, , I i 41 43:
The tragedie of King Richard the second ...what I speake My body shall make good vpon this earth, Or my diuine soule answer it in heauen. 1611, King James Bible, Hebrews IV 14:
Wee haue a great high Priest, that is passed into the heauens.
( 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, 3:
The belief in ascending to Heaven after death became widespread in the Han dynasty.
( by extension ) Any paradise; any blissful place or experience.
c. 1378, William Langland, , B x 300:
Piers Plowman If heuene be on þis erthe...It is in cloistere or in scole.
1600, William Shakespeare, , II i 243:
A Midsommer Nights Dreame 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, , I 254–255:
Paradise Lost 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, , II iii 198:
Babes in Darkling Wood They thought strikes and hunger marches the quintessence of politics and Soviet Russia heaven on earth.
( by extension ) A state of bliss; a peaceful ecstasy.
c. 1385, Geoffrey Chaucer, , II l 826:
Troilus and Criseyde It an heuene was hire voys to here.
1550, J. Heywood, Dialogue Prov. Eng. Tongue, II vii:
Husbandes are in heauen...whose wiues scold not. 1809 October 26, William Wordsworth, Friend, 163:
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven! ( 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, 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), 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 '
' in all senses when regarded as a Heaven proper name.
When used as a synonym for the impersonal sky, the word has typically been plural ("
" or " heavens ") since the 17th century, except in the heavens poetry.
Synonyms [ edit ]
Antonyms [ edit ]
Hyponyms [ edit ]
Derived terms [ edit ]
Related terms [ edit ]
Translations [ edit ]
qiell (sq) Arabic:
سَمَاء m, f ( samāʾ ) ( سَمَاوَات pl ( samāwāt )) Aramaic:
שמיא c ( šmayā’ ) Syriac: ܫܡܝܐ c ( šmayā’ ) Armenian:
երկինք (hy) ( erkinkʿ ) Asturian:
cielu m Bashkir:
күк ( kük ) Bulgarian:
небе́ (bg) n ( nebé ) Burmese:
ကောင်းကင် (my) ( kaung:kang ) Catalan:
cel (ca) Chinese:
Mandarin: 天空 (zh) ( tiānkōng ) Czech:
nebe (cs) , n obloha (cs) f Dalmatian:
cil m Dutch:
hemel (nl) , m lucht (nl) , f firmament (nl) , n uitspansel (nl) n Esperanto:
ĉielo (eo) Estonian:
taevas (et) Finnish:
taivas (fi) French:
ciel (fr) m Friulian:
cîl , m paradîs m Galician:
ceo (gl) m Georgian:
ზეცა ( zeca ) German:
Himmel (de) m Gothic:
𐌷𐌹𐌼𐌹𐌽𐍃 ( himins ) Greek:
ουρανός (el) m ( ouranós ), ουράνια (el) n pl ( ouránia )
Ancient: οὐρανός m ( ouranós ) Hawaiian:
lani (haw) Hebrew:
שָׁמַיִם (he) m pl ( shamáyim ) Hindi:
आकाश (hi) ( ākāś ) Hungarian:
ég , (hu) égbolt , (hu) mennybolt (hu) Ido:
cielo (io) Indonesian:
langit (id) Interlingua:
cielo (it) m Japanese:
空 (ja) ( そら, sora ), 天 (ja) ( てん, ten ) Kashubian:
niebò n Korean:
하늘 (ko) ( haneul ) Kurdish:
ezman , (ku) asîman (ku) Sorani: ئاسمان (ku) ( 'asman ) Latin:
caelum (la) n Latvian: debesis (lv) f pl
likoló class 5 Lithuanian:
dangus (lt) m Low German:
German Low German: heven (nds) m Macedonian:
небо n ( nebo ) Manchu:
, kesuck kéesuck Mongolian:
тэнгэр (mn) ( tenger ) Navajo:
himmel (no) , m sky (no) m, f Old Portuguese:
ceo Old Turkic:
𐱅𐰭𐰼𐰃 ( teŋri ) Pashto:
هسك (ps) m ( hask ) Persian:
آسمان (fa) ( âsmân ), سپهر (fa) ( sepehr ), گرزمان (fa) ( garozmân ) ( archaic, poetic ) Polabian:
nebü n Polish:
niebo (pl) n Portuguese:
céu (pt) m Romanian:
cer (ro) Russian:
не́бо (ru) n ( nébo ), небеса́ (ru) n pl ( nebesá ) Scottish Gaelic:
speur m Serbo-Croatian:
не̏бо n Roman: nȅbo (sh) , n nebesa (sh) n pl Slovak:
nebo n Slovene:
nebo (sl) , n ( archaic ) nébes m Sorbian:
njebjo n Upper Sorbian: njebjo n Spanish:
cielo (es) , m firmamento (es) m Swabian:
mbingu (sw) Swedish:
himmel (sv) , c sky (sv) c Tagalog:
langit , (tl) kalangitan Thai:
ฟ้า (th) ( fáa ) Turkish:
gökyüzü , (tr) gök (tr) Urdu:
آکاش (ur) , m آسمان (ur) , m گگن m Vietnamese:
trời (vi) Welsh:
wybr f West Frisian:
הימל m ( himl ), שמים ( shomayem ) Yucatec Maya:
kaʼan Zulu: izulu class 5
abahli iisa Arabic:
جَنَّة f ( janna )
الجنة f ( e-ganna ) Hijazi: جنة f ( janna ) Aramaic:
Syriac: ܦܪܕܝܣܐ m ( pardaysā’ ) Armenian:
դրախտ (hy) ( draxt ) Asturian:
paraísu m Azerbaijani:
cənnət (az) Baluchi:
جنت ( jannat ) Bashkir:
ожмах ( ožmax ), йәннәт ( yännät ) Bulgarian:
небе́ (bg) n ( nebé ) Catawba:
hímbare Central Dusun:
天堂 ( tin 1 tong 4 ) Mandarin: 天國 , (zh) 天国 (zh) ( tiānguó ), 天堂 (zh) ( tiāntáng ) Czech:
ráj (cs) m Dutch:
hemel (nl) , m paradijs (nl) , n hof van Eden , n tuin der lusten m Esperanto:
ĉielo (eo) Estonian:
taevas , (et) paradiis Finnish:
taivas , (fi) paratiisi (fi) French:
ciel (fr) , m paradis (fr) , m au-delà , (fr) cieux (fr) m pl Friulian:
cîl m Galician:
paraíso m Georgian:
სამოთხე ( samotxe ) German:
Himmel (de) m Greek:
παράδεισος (el) m ( parádeisos ), ουράνια (el) n pl ( ouránia )
Ancient: οὐρανός m ( ouranós ) Guinea-Bissau Creole:
gloria Haitian Creole:
פרדיסא m ( pardaysā’ ), גן־עדן f ( gan-éden ) Hindi:
स्वर्ग (hi) m ( svarga ), जन्नत (hi) f ( jannat ) ( Persianized contexts ) Hungarian:
mennyország , (hu) menny , (hu) ég (hu) Indonesian:
surga (id) Interlingua:
, celo paradiso Irish:
neamh f Italian:
cielo (it) , m paradiso (it) m Japanese:
天国 (ja) ( てんごく, tengoku ), 天堂 (ja) ( てんどう, tendō ), 楽園 (ja) ( らくえん, rakuen ) Kashubian:
niebò n Korean:
하늘 (ko) ( haneul ), 하늘나라 (ko) ( haneullara ) Kurdish:
cenet (ku) Sorani: بهههشت (ku) ( bahašt ) Latin: caelum (la) n
debesis (lv) f pl Lithuanian:
dangus (lt) , m rojus (lt) m Low German:
German Low German: himmel m Luxembourgish:
, Himmel Paradäis m, n Macedonian:
рај m pl ( raj ) Malay:
syurga , (ms) , kayangan , jannah , jannat , loka , loga , sorga adan (ms) Manchu:
abkai tanggin Maore Comorian:
pev̄o class 9 ( pevo ) Maori:
диваажин (mn) ( divaažin ) Navajo:
Wyerriewarr Ngazidja Comorian:
himmel (no) , m paradis , n paradis pl Old Occitan:
جنت (ps) m ( ǰanat ), هسك (ps) m ( hask ) Persian:
بهشت (fa) ( behešt ), جنت (fa) ( jannat ), مینو (fa) ( minu ) Polabian:
nebü n Polish:
niebo (pl) , n raj (pl) m Portuguese:
céu (pt) , m Paraíso (pt) m Romani:
rajo m Romanian:
rai (ro) Russian:
небеса́ (ru) n pl ( nebesá ), рай (ru) m ( raj ) Sanskrit:
स्वर्ग (sa) m ( svarga ), स्वर्गलोक (sa) m ( svargaloka ) Scots:
, heiven the guid place Scottish Gaelic:
nèamh m Serbo-Croatian:
ра̑ј f Roman: rȃj (sh) f Slovak:
nebo n Slovene:
nebesa (sl) n pl Sorbian:
njebjo n Upper Sorbian: njebjo n Spanish:
cielo (es) , m paraíso (es) m Swabian:
himmel (sv) , c paradis (sv) , n himmelrike n Tagalog:
paraiso , (tl) langit , (tl) kalangitan Telugu:
స్వర్గం (te) ( svargaṃ ) Thai:
สวรรค์ (th) ( sà-wǎn ) Turkish:
cennet (tr) Vietnamese:
thiên đường , (vi) thiên đàng (vi) Welsh:
nef (cy) f Yiddish:
הימל m ( himl ), שמים ( shomayem ) Yucatec Maya:
ka'an Zazaki: cenet
blissful place or experience
heaven ( third-person singular simple present , heavens present participle , heavening simple past and past participle ) heavened
( 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.
( obsolete ) To beatify, enchant, or please greatly.
1924 April 13, Observer, 12 4:
They [ ]...enraptured the public and Byron's Tales heavened Murray. ( obsolete ) To beautify, to make into a paradise.
References [ edit ]
↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3
Oxford English Dictionary. "Heaven, n."
^ Gerhard Köbler,
Altenglisches Wörterbuch, entry "heofon"
Oxford English Dictionary. "Heaven, v."
Anagrams [ edit ]