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in Western monotheistic religions, eternal abode of souls damned by the judgment of God. The souls in hell are deprived forever of the sight of God. The punishment of hell is generally analogized to earthly fire. A constant feature is SatanSatan
[Heb.,=adversary], traditional opponent of God and humanity in Judaism and Christianity. In Scripture and literature the role of the opponent is given many names, such as Apolyon, Beelzebub, Semihazah, Azazel, Belial, and Sammael.
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 or Lucifer (also known as Iblīs in Islam), considered the ruler of hell. Among ancient Jews, Sheol or Tophet was conceived as a gloomy place of departed souls where they are not tormented but wander about unhappily. The ethical aspect apparently developed gradually, and Sheol became like the hell of Christianity. Gehenna, in the New Testament, which drew its name from the Vale of HinnomHinnom
, valley, W and S of Jerusalem. Its ill repute in the Bible emanated from the worship there of foreign gods, including supposed child sacrifice to Molech at Tophet. In later Jewish literature it was called Ge-Hinnom [Heb.
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, was certainly a place of punishment. Many Christian churches now regard hell more as a state of being than a place. In Zoroastrianism, the souls of the dead must cross the Bridge of the Requiter, which narrows for the wicked so that they fall into the abyss of horror and suffer ceaseless torment. In ancient Greek religion the great underworld is HadesHades
, in Greek and Roman religion and mythology.

1 The ruler of the underworld: see Pluto.

2 The world of the dead, ruled by Pluto and Persephone, located either underground or in the far west beyond the inhabited regions.
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, ruled by the god of that name (also known as Pluto). The Romans called this underworld also Orcus, Dis, and, poetically, Avernus. In Buddhism, hell is the lowest of six levels of existence into which a being may be reborn depending on that being's karmic accumulations. Hell is often treated with detailed imagination in legend and literature. See heavenheaven,
blissful upper realm or state entered after death; in Western monotheistic religions it is the place where the just see God face to face (sometimes called the beatific vision).
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; sinsin,
in religion, unethical act. The term implies disobedience to a personal God, as in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and is not used so often in systems such as Buddhism where there is no personal divinity.
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See M. Himmelfarb, Tours of Hell (1981); P. Toon, Heaven and Hell (1986).



according to the majority of religious teachings, the abode of the souls of sinners supposedly doomed to eternal suffering. Concepts of hell arose from primitive beliefs in the existence of the soul beyond the grave. As religions developed, the concept of hell as a place intended exclusively for the souls of sinners arose. According to ancient Greek mythology, the gloomiest part in the kingdom of shades (the kingdom of the dead) was Tartarus, the dwelling place of the evil. In Judaism hell (Sheol) was initially the subterranean region to which the shades of all the dead, both the sinners and the just, descended. Later hell was represented as the place where the souls of sinners were subjected to suffering. Christianity accepted this representation of hell. A brilliant expression of the Western European medieval concept of hell can be found in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The concept of hell also exists in the Eastern religions of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Theologians and clergymen use the concept of hell, which they contrast with paradise, to influence the conscience and feelings of believers.


Lafarg, P. “Izmyshlenie ada.” In his book Ekonomicheskii determinizm K. Marksa: Soch., vol. 3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1931.
Sidorov, D. I. Ob ade, rae i ikh obitateliakh. Moscow, 1960.
Shishkin, I. B. V. poiskakh bibleiskogo ada. Moscow, 1962.
Bautz, J. Die Hölle. Mainz, 1882.

What does it mean when you dream about hell?

Hell symbolizes a place of suffering and torment. Someone who dreams of hell may be suffering from a seemingly inescapable situation caused by having given away his or her emotional power to someone else.


See also Underworld.
place of destruction. [N.T.: Revelation 9:11; Br. Lit.: Paradise Lost]
place of eternal suffering. [O.T.: II Kings 23:10]
the great underworld. [Gk. Myth.: NCE, 1219]
valley of ill repute that came to mean hell. [Judaism: NCE, 1244]
realm of torment for deceased wicked people. [Buddhism, Hindu Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 745]
chief city of Hell. [Br. Lit.: Paradise Lost]
(or Tophet) gloomy place of departed, unhappy souls. [Judaism: NCE, 1219]


1. Christianity
a. the place or state of eternal punishment of the wicked after death, with Satan as its ruler
b. forces of evil regarded as residing there
2. (in various religions and cultures) the abode of the spirits of the dead
3. Now rare a gambling house, booth, etc.
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