Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of or relating to a lower world of the dead.
  • adj. Of or relating to hell: infernal punishments; infernal powers.
  • adj. Fiendish; diabolical: infernal instruments of war.
  • adj. Abominable; awful: the infernal racket of the jackhammers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or relating to hell, or the world of the dead; hellish.
  • adj. Of or relating to a fire or inferno.
  • adj. Stygian, gloomy.
  • adj. Diabolical or fiendish.
  • adj. Very annoying; damned.
  • n. An inhabitant of the infernal regions.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to or suitable for the lower regions, inhabited, according to the ancients, by the dead; pertaining to Pluto's realm of the dead, the Tartarus of the ancients.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to, resembling, or inhabiting, hell; suitable for hell, or to the character of the inhabitants of hell; hellish; diabolical.
  • n. An inhabitant of the infernal regions; also, the place itself.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining to the lower regions, or regions of the dead, the Tartarus of the ancients.
  • Pertaining to or resembling hell; inhabiting hell; suitable or appropriate to hell or its inhabitants; hellish; fiendish; diabolical: as, infernal cruelty.
  • Devilish, satanic, fiendlike, nefarious.
  • n. An inhabitant of hell or of the lower regions.
  • n. A person or thing of an infernal character in any sense, or of supposed infernal appearance: specifically applied to a fire-ship, torpedo, infernal machine, or the like.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. extremely evil or cruel; expressive of cruelty or befitting hell
  • n. an inhabitant of Hell
  • adj. of or pertaining to or characteristic of a very uncontrolled and intense fire
  • adj. expletives used informally as intensifiers
  • adj. being of the underworld
  • adj. characteristic of or resembling Hell

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin īnfernālis, from īnfernus, hell, from Latin, lower, underground; see n̥dher- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English, from Old French, from Late Latin infernalis, from infernus ("hell") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • His experience and training with the Mounted Police made it difficult for him to accept with equal mind what he called the infernal cheek of a bunch of Indians.

    The Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail

  • Her books contain infernal hints, Christological echoes, centaurs, phoenixes, house-elves and Moaning Myrtle — a postmodern superfluity of myth and invention into which she dips and dips and keeps on dipping, because it will never be exhausted, and it will never quite add up.

    Sex and the Single Wizard

  • Perhaps infernal is the perfect word; perhaps, after all, we are living in a species of Hell.

    Archive 2007-04-01

  • Turreau proposed a series of columns, which became known as the infernal or hell columns, to sweep through the area.

    Bloodlust

  • "Next, a little box containing a sort of stone known as infernal stone.

    Celebrated Crimes (Complete)

  • Pluto was therefore called the infernal Jupiter, and oblations were made to him by the living, for the souls of their friends departed.

    Roman Antiquities, and Ancient Mythology For Classical Schools (2nd ed)

  • It must be called infernal, because slavery is a crime against humanity -- so heinous in its spirit, and so barbarous in its manifestations, that none but a devil incarnate, or otherwise, could have been the one to suggest it.

    History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

  • And yet still more must it be called infernal because the Fugitive Slave Bill, which was in great activity at this time, had provisions in it bribing the courts of justice against the weak and defenseless fugitive, but in favor of his avaricious claimant, on whose side already existed the American sword and the American purse.

    History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

  • And yet still more must it be called infernal because the Fugitive Slave Law was enacted by a civilized Christian government, which gave to a white man the right to prove his ownership in a horse, a cow, or a bale of cotton, at the same time that it denied a black man the right to prove his own personal freedom, or that of his wife and children.

    History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

  • He did not like to hear competition called infernal; he had always supposed it was something sacred; but he approved of what Colonel Woodburn said of the Standard Oil Company; it was all true; the Standard Oil has squeezed Dryfoos once, and made him sell it a lot of oil-wells by putting down the price of oil so low in that region that he lost money on every barrel he pumped.

    A Hazard of New Fortunes — Volume 4

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