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See also: nether world


Alternative forms[edit]


From nether- (beneath, lower) +‎ world.


netherworld (plural netherworlds)

  1. The place to which one's spirit descends upon death, conceived as below the surface of the earth.
    In some religions, one's soul departs to a netherworld, instead of the heavens.
    • 1981, William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture, London: Rider/Hutchinson & Co., page 174:
      As Inanna prepares to descend she fastens the seven divine laws to her side, and as she walks toward the netherworld she speaks to her vizier, Ninshubur.
  2. The locale of the spirit world or afterlife, whether deemed to be situated below the world of the living or not.
    While I was astrally projecting, I felt my soul pass through many insubstantial netherworlds.
  3. Specifically, a location of punishment in the afterlife; a hell.
    The missionary was motivated by a sincere desire to rescue souls from eternal torment in the netherworld.
  4. (by extension) A hidden, shadowy, or sinister subculture, such as that of organized crime.
    Richard had been initiated into the netherworld of dog racing by his father, and knew all the popular greyhound performance-enhancing drugs.

Usage notes[edit]

Depending on cultural context, it may be appropriate to construct this as the netherworld, if only one is supposed to exist.



Further reading[edit]