heaven
Pronunciation
  • enPR: hĕvʹən, IPA: /ˈhɛvən/, /hɛvn/
Noun

heaven

  1. The sky, specifically:
    1. (dated, now usually plural) The distant sky in which the sun, moon, and stars appear or move; the firmament; the celestial spheres.
      • 1535, Coverdale Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1:
        All that is vnder the heauen.
      • 1585, Thomas Washington translating Nicholas de Nicolay, The nauigations, peregrinations and voyages, made into Turkie by Nicholas Nicholay, I vi 4:
        The ordinaunce...made such a great noyse and thunderyng that it seemed the heaven would have fallen.
      • 1594, Thomas Blundeville, M. Blundeuile his Exercises, act I scene 3:
        In ascending orderly vpwardes...The first is the Spheare of the Moone...The seuenth the Spheare of Saturne, The eight the Spheare of the fixed Starres, commonly called the firmament. The ninth is called the second moueable or Christall heauen, The tenth is called the first moueable, and the eleuenth is called the Emperiall heauen, where God and his Angels are said to dwell.
      • circa 1594 William Shakespeare, The Comedie of Errors, act I scene 1:
        What obscured light the heauens did grant.
      • 1625, Nathanæl Carpenter, Geography delineated forth in two bookes, volume I chapter 4 p77:
        The Heauens...are carried in 24 houres from East to West.
      • 1656, Thomas Stanley, The History of Philosophy, II v 74:
        Stars and constellations; some fixed for the Ornament of Heaven
      • 1930 March, Nature, 179 2:
        The moon's path lies in that belt of the heavens known as the zodiac.
      • 1981, E.R. Harrison, Cosmology, XII 250:
        In an infinite...universe the stars would collectively outshine the Sun and flood the heavens with light far more intense than is observed.
      • 2006, Peter Carroll translating a maxim of the Southern Song dynasty in Between Heaven and Modernity: Reconstructing Suzhou, 1895–1937:
        Above is Heaven, Below are Suzhou and Hangzhou
    2. (obsolete) The near sky in which weather, flying animals, etc. appear; (obsolete) the atmosphere; the climate.
      • circa 1382 Wycliffe's Bible, Job 35:11:
        The bestis of the erthe...the foulis of heuene
      • 1581, George Pettie translating Stefano Guazzo, Ciuile Conuersation, I 26:
        Everie...Countrie, by the nature of the place, the climate of the Heaven, and the influence of the starres hath certaine vertues.
      • circa 1597 William Shakespeare, The comicall Historie of the Merchant of Venice, IV i:
        The qualitie of mercie is not ſtraind,
        it droppeth as the gentle raine from heauen
        vpon the place beneath
      • 1660, George Mackenzie, Religio Stoici, II 44:
        Fellow-believers...fed the birds of heaven with the carcases of pious and reverend Church-men.
    3. (obsolete) A model displaying the movement of the celestial bodies, an orrery.
      • 1600, Thomas Nashe, Summers Last Will:
        Euery man cannot, with Archimedes, make a heauen of brasse.
  2. (religion) The abode of God or the gods, traditionally conceived as beyond the sky; especially:
    1. (Christianity, usually capitalized) The abode of God and of the angels and saints in His presence.
      • 1560, Geneva Bible, Revelation 12:7–8:
        And there was a battel in heauen. Michael & his Angels foght againſt the dragon, and the dragon foght & his Angels. But they preuailed not, nether was their place founde anie more in heauen.
      • 1644, Samuel Rutherford, Lex, Rex: The Law and the Prince, V 16:
        Conſider firſt that the excommunicated Prelate ſaith... Kings are not immediatly from God, as by any ſpeciall Ordinance ſent from Heaven by the miniſtery of Angels and Prophets, there were but ſome few ſuch, as Moſes, Saul, David, etc.
      • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, I 263:
        Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.
      • 1906 July 30, Washington Post, 12 4:
        Christ's coming from the heavens has entered into the life of humanity as the Founder of the world to come.
    2. (religion, by extension, often capitalized) The abode of the Abrahamic God; similar abodes of the gods in other religions and traditions, such as Mount Olympus.
      • circa 1379, Geoffrey Chaucer, The House of Fame, 164:
        Venus...Doun fro the heven gan descende.
      • circa 1382 Wycliffe's Bible, Jeremiah 7:18:
        Thei make sweete cakis to the quen of heuene [Astarte]
      • 1594, William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, act IV scene 3:
        With Ioue in heauen, or some where else.
      • 1649, Alexander Ross translating the Sieur Du Ryer, The Alcoran Of Mahomet, Translated out of the Arabique into French... newly Englished, 406:
        As he [Muhammad] was returning, in the fourth Heaven, Moses advised him to goe back to God.
      • 1832, Charles Coleman, The Mythology of the Hindus, XIII 220:
        Like the Buddhas, they [the Jains] believe that there is a plurality of heavens and hells.
      • 1841, Mountstuart Elphinstone, The History of India, I ii iv 169:
        The heaven of Siva is in the midst of the eternal snows and glaciers of Keilás, one of the highest and deepest groups of the stupendous summits of Hémaláya.
      • 2011, Lillian Tseng, Picturing Heaven in Early China, 2:
        To grasp the Chinese's notion of Heaven, we must look at the contexts in which tian is used... In the Book of Odes (Shi jing 詩經), which includes poems dated between the eleventh and seventh centuries BCE, tian is a place where the Heavenly Thearch resides.
    3. (by extension, usually capitalized) Providence, the will of God or the council of the gods; fate.
      • circa 1604 William Shakespeare, All's Well, that Ends Well, III iv:
        ...he cannot thriue,
        Vnlesse her prayers, whom heauen delights to heare
        And loues to grant, repreeue him from the wrath
        Of greatest Iustice.
      • 1611, King James Bible, Daniel 4:26:
        After that thou shalt haue knowen that the heauens doe rule.
      • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, I 212:
        ...The will
        And high permission of all-ruling Heaven.
      • 1793, Henry Boyd, Poems, II iv 270:
        Heaven commands thine arm
        To lift the sure-destroying sword!
      • 1886 May 8, The Pall Mall Gazette, 1 1:
        ...executing the just judgment of offended Heaven upon cattle-houghers, traitors, and assassins.
      • 1992, W.S. Wilson translating E. Yoshikawa, Taiko, II 186:
        There's nothing we can do but pray to heaven for good luck.
      • 2011, Lillian Tseng, Picturing Heaven in Early China, 3:
        Cosmologists regarded Heaven as a force—composed of qi 氣, which was divided into yin 陰 and yang 陽 aspects—that kept the cosmos moving.
  3. (religion) The afterlife of the blessed dead, traditionally conceived as opposed to an afterlife of the wicked and unjust (compare hell); specifically:
    1. (Christianity, Islam) The afterlife of the souls who are not sent to a place of punishment or purification such as hell, purgatory, or limbo; the state or condition of being in the presence of God after death.
      • 1544, Richard Tracy, A supplycacion to our moste soueraigne lorde Kynge henry the eyght Kynge of England of Fraunce and of Irelande, C:
        Teache the people to gett heuen with fastynge.
      • 1597, William Shakespeare, The tragedie of King Richard the second, act I scene 1:
        ...what I speake
        My body shall make good vpon this earth,
        Or my diuine soule answer it in heauen.
      • 1611, King James Bible, Hebrews 4:14:
        Wee haue a great high Priest, that is passed into the heauens.
    2. (religion, by extension, often capitalized) The afterlife of the blessed dead in other religions and traditions, such as the Pure Land or Elysium.
      • 2011, Lillian Tseng, Picturing Heaven in Early China, 3:
        The belief in ascending to Heaven after death became widespread in the Han dynasty.
    3. (by extension) Any paradise; any blissful place or experience.
      • circa 1378 William Langland, Piers Plowman, B x 300:
        If heuene be on þis erthe...It is in cloistere or in scole.
      • 1600, William Shakespeare, A Midsommer Nights Dreame, act II scene 1:
        Ile follow thee and make a heauen of hell.
      • 1660 November 14, a speech in the House of Commons in W. Cobbett, Parl. Hist. (1808), IV 145:
        England, that was formerly the heaven, would be now the hell for women.
      • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, I 254–255:
        The mind is its own place, and in it self
        Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
      • 1782, F. Burney, Cecilia, I iii iv 51:
        Such a shop as that...would be quite a heaven upon earth to me.
      • 1940, H.G. Wells, Babes in Darkling Wood, II iii 198:
        They thought strikes and hunger marches the quintessence of politics and Soviet Russia heaven on earth.
    4. (by extension) A state of bliss; a peaceful ecstasy.
      • circa 1385 Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, II l 826:
        It an heuene was hire voys to here.
      • 1550, J. Heywood, Dialogue Prov. Eng. Tongue, II vii:
        Husbandes are in heauen...whose wiues scold not.
      • 1809 October 26, William Wordsworth, Friend, 163:
        Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!
    5. (informal, with a modifier) Similarly blissful afterlives, places, or states for particular people, animals, or objects.
      • 1867, J.W. De Forest, Miss Ravenel's Conversion, XXVI 368:
        Perhaps it has gone to the dog heaven, and is wagging somewhere in glory.
      • 1879 February, J. H. Payne, Scribner's Monthly, 470 2:
        His pet name for Easthampton is ‘Goose-heaven’, and he harps upon the idea eternally.
      • 1908 October 5, Chicago Tribune, 3 1:
        One gray beard who found the gates closed shinned up the fifteen foot fence...and dropped into the baseball heaven he was seeking.
      • 1972, M. Sanders, Flash:
        The Dave Clark 5 deserve a place in Rock & Roll Heaven right along there beside Question Mark & The Mysterians, the Standells, Count Five, the Troggs, and the Music Machine.
      • 1986 February 3, Newsweek, 70:
        The building was once a candy factory, which makes it, Frazier says, mouse heaven.
      • 2003 August 1, Church Times, 28 3:
        Ricky bumps it into the garden, and tells me it is going to ‘the cooker heaven’. ‘Where it will be this size,’ adds his wife, her hands making the size of a brick. She means that it is off to the squasher.
      • 2004 July 17, Western Mail (Cardiff), 15:
        Goronwy has gone to goldfish heaven where he is swimming in a beautiful clear blue ocean with all the other fishies.
Synonyms Antonyms Related terms Translations Translations Translations Verb

heaven (heavens, present participle heavening; past and past participle heavened)

  1. (obsolete) To transport to the abode of God, the gods, or the blessed.
    • 1614, Thomas Adams, The divells banket described in sixe sermons, II 81:
      He heauens himselfe on earth, & for a litle pelfe cousens himselfe of blisse.
  2. (obsolete) To beatify, enchant, or please greatly.
    • 1924 April 13, Observer, 12 4:
      They [Byron's Tales]...enraptured the public and heavened Murray.
  3. (obsolete) To beautify, to make into a paradise.

Heaven
Proper noun
  1. (religion) The abode of God or the gods, when considered as a specific location; the abode of the blessed departed who reside in the presence of God or the gods
    • 1644, Samuel Rutherford, Lex, Rex: The Law and the Prince, V 16
      Conſider firſt that the excommunicated Prelate ſaith... Kings are not immediatly from God, as by any ſpeciall Ordinance ſent from Heaven by the miniſtery of Angels and Prophets, there were but ſome few ſuch, as Moſes, Saul, David, etc.
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, I  263
      Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.
    • 2011, Lillian Tseng, Picturing Heaven in Early China, 2
      To grasp the Chinese's notion of Heaven, we must look at the contexts in which tian is used... In the Book of Odes (Shi jing 詩經), which includes poems dated between the eleventh and seventh centuries BCE, tian is a place where the Heavenly Thearch resides.
  2. (religion) Providence, the will of God or the gods, when considered as a personal entity or specific aspect of the divine; Fate
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, I 212
      ...but that the will
      And high permission of all-ruling Heaven
      Left him at large to his own dark designs,
    • 1793, Henry Boyd, Poems, II iv 270
      Heaven commands thine arm
      To lift the sure-destroying sword!
    • 1886 May 8, The Pall Mall Gazette, 1 1
      ...executing the just judgment of offended Heaven upon cattle-houghers, traitors, and assassins.
    • 2011, Lillian Tseng, Picturing Heaven in Early China, 3
      Cosmologists regarded Heaven as a force—composed of qi (氣), which was divided into yin (陰) and yang (陽) aspects—that kept the cosmos moving.
  3. (uncommon) Other extended senses of heaven as a specific place similar to the abode of God, the gods, or the blessed departed
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, I 254–255
      The mind is its own place, and in it self
      Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
  4. (obsolete) The sky, particularly its distant aspect as the abode of the sun, moon, and stars
    • 1581, George Pettie translating Stefano Guazzo, Ciuile Conuersation, I 26
      Everie...Countrie, by the nature of the place, the climate of the Heaven, and the influence of the starres hath certaine vertues.
    • 1625, Nathanæl Carpenter, Geography delineated forth in two bookes, I iv 77
      The Heauens...are carried in 24 houres from East to West.
  5. (Chinese mythology, semantic translation of 天) The supreme God or Nature which controls the universe.
    • 1893, James Legge translating "The Doctrine of the Mean" ↗:
      What Heaven has conferred is called the Nature...
    • 2000, Yao Xinzhong, An Introduction to Confucianism, p. 142: ↗
      ...‘Heaven’ as we use it throughout the book is only a convenient but inaccurate translation of the Chinese character tian. Heaven in Chinese religions as well as in the Confucian tradition has multidimensional implications... In its metaphysical and physical connotation, Heaven... refers to... Nature. Applied in the spiritual realm, it signifies an anthropomorphic Lord or a Supreme Being who presides in Heaven, and rules over or governs directly the spiritual and material worlds.
    • 2018, Zhuo Xinping, Religious Faith of the Chinese, p. 58: ↗
      It was not just the sky, but a god with wills and intentions, seen as sovereign of all... In fact, "Tian" was another reverent term to address the supreme god: "Heaven, for the help of the inferior people, made for them rulers, and made for them instructors" ("Great Declaration I" in the Book of History)...
  6. (uncommon) Surname derived from Evan
  7. (rare) A female given name of modern usage from the noun heaven.



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