n. pl. in·fer·nos
1. A violent conflagration: “Scores of buildings had been gutted in the inferno, and small fires were consuming any that had survived the night” (Neal Bascomb).
2. A place or condition of extreme heat: “Five more days of hiking through this inferno was too much to contemplate” (Jeffrey Tayler).
3. A place or condition suggestive of hell, especially with respect to human suffering or death: the inferno of battle.
[Italian, hell, (popularized in English in the 19th century by its use as the English title of Dante's Inferno, a description of hell that forms the first part of his work The Divine Comedy), from Late Latin īnfernus, hell; see INFERNAL.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.