Definition of inferno in US English:



  • 1A large fire that is dangerously out of control.

    • ‘The worst inferno during that spate swept into the national capital of Canberra, where it razed 500 homes and killed four people.’
    • ‘What was once a calm working environment had become a burning inferno in just one burst of flame.’
    • ‘By this time the fire had become an inferno and tyres were exploding around them.’
    • ‘Crews fought the flames for 15 minutes before getting the inferno under control but had to remain at the scene for 90 minutes.’
    • ‘The sound of helicopters and sirens could be heard as the emergency services turned out to bring what was a raging inferno under control.’
    • ‘When she glanced down at the hole, the whole bottom floor was a burning inferno, and the flames were jumping up.’
    • ‘Dozens of local residents rang the fire brigade as the inferno ripped through the offices and warehouse area.’
    • ‘It's an explosive mix that has turned normal fires into ferocious infernos.’
    • ‘A huge inferno swept through the scene and raged for several days.’
    • ‘Officers spent nearly three hours battling with the inferno before they could bring the fire under control.’
    • ‘We certainly didn't want to turn a fire into an inferno, but we were sitting in a burning jet.’
    • ‘Within approximately 15 minutes, firefighters managed to control the inferno.’
    • ‘It took four hours for 17 firefighters and officers to control the inferno and carry out salvage work on the 15 by eight metre room.’
    • ‘These fires were not catastrophic infernos but rather a life-giving natural event for the forest.’
    • ‘A police helicopter also circled the site, sending images of the inferno down to fire crews to help them tackle the blaze.’
    • ‘The cool, moist ocean breezes replaced the hotter and drier Santa Ana wind that had whipped fires into raging infernos at the weekend.’
    • ‘Firefighters fought for over an hour to control the inferno in the city's center.’
    • ‘And so we poured gas down every cavernous hole we found, and then exploded them with torches, setting the caves on fire like raw infernos.’
    • ‘More than 60 fire fighters tackled an inferno at a former tannery in Otley last night.’
    • ‘Breathing apparatus, three jets, foam and two ground monitors were used to get the inferno under control.’
    blaze, conflagration, holocaust, firestorm
    View synonyms
  • 2Hell (with reference to Dante's Divine Comedy).

    • ‘This guy appeared among the enchanters in the eighth circle of Hell in Dante's Inferno, so he must have been almighty.’
    • ‘That would be like asking Dante to traverse his Inferno again.’
    • ‘It's hell, the real thing, the genuine Inferno.’
    • ‘As we have already seen, Dante's guide through Inferno or Hell, was the Roman poet and pagan, Virgil.’
    • ‘Dante put him in the 9th Circle of Hell in The Inferno because he was the first one to put his own face on the money he produced.’


Mid 19th century: from Italian, from Christian Latin infernus (see infernal).