heaven

Heaven is a word that dates back to the Old English heofon. Its earliest sense is that of the sky, the firmament in which the stars are placed. From Beowulf, line 1571:

swa of hefene hadre scineð rodores candel
(as from heaven, the candle of the sky clearly shines)

The plural form that is commonly used today also dates back this far. From c.825 in the Vespasian Psalter, from Psalms 8:3:

Ic gesie heofenas werc fingra ðinra
(I see the heavens, the work of your fingers)

The sense meaning the abode of God, the afterlife, appears a little bit later. From a translation of the gospel of Matthew, c.1000:

Fader ure þu þe eart on heofene
(Our father, you who are in heaven)

The English heaven has cognates throughout the Germanic languages.


(Source: Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd Edition)

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