How appropriate for this season! Virginia’s infernal heat of July and August should remind us why.
In Latin, as the OED entry notes, infernālis meant “realms below.” The use of fire in the underworld is apparently a bit of Medieval Christian theology, but none of the underworlds of Antiquity were places you’d want to spend your vacation.
The association with the hellfire of Christianity can be traced back a long time; the OED’s earliest usage, from 1385, is by Chaucer.
So when I call the weather “infernally hot and humid” I’ve made an ancient reference indeed. Yet we can have “infernally cold” or dry or wet weather. Anything or anyone so bad to seem hellish can wear this metaphor (and some doubtlessly wear it proudly).
Looking forward to your words and metaphors as the weather becomes less infernal!Please send us words and metaphors useful in academic writing by e-mailing me (jessid -at- richmond -dot- edu) or leaving a comment below.
Inferno image courtesy of Daniel Brachlow at Pixabay.