Internal vs infernal

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Internal and infernal are two words that are very close in pronunciation and spelling and are often confused. We will examine the differing definitions of internal and infernal, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Internal refers to something located on the inside of something, including a building, an organization or even the human body. Internal may also describe a thought or feeling that is experienced inside one’s mind and is unexpressed externally. Internal may also be a description of something that is intrinsic. Internal is an adjective, related words are internally, internality. The word internal is derived from the Latin word internus which means inward or within.

Infernal refers to something that is related to hell. Most of the time the word infernal is used in hyperbole, or as an exaggeration, to describe something that is annoying or irritating. Infernal is also an adjective, a related word is infernally. The word infernal is derived from the Latin word infernalis which means belonging to the nether region.


Hundreds of dead white-tailed deer in the region may have been killed by a disease that causes internal bleeding and is likely responsible for thousands more deaths in other states. (The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Although no funding was allocated for the startup of the state’s medical marijuana program, the head of the state Bureau for Public Health said he is looking at internal ways to initially fund the program. (The Bluefield Daily Telegraph)

Neither are long car trips, close quarters, downed trees, seeping water and Miami’s infernal heat. (The Reading Eagle)

Regardless, the minions of the gluttonous Lord of excrement and plague tortured ancient worshippers with infernal flapping of wings, hovering in clouds over corpses and all that was unholy. (The El Paso Times)

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