Middle English Dictionary Entry

firmament n.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) The arch or vault of the heavens on whose surface the clouds, moon, sun, and stars appear to be; the sky; (b) the visible sky conceived as being highest above the earth and closest to heaven, or as being the lower limit of heaven itself; also, heaven as the abode of God and his angels; also fig.
The expanse of space about the earth where the realms of heavenly fire are, and the regions through which the heavenly bodies move; also, the regions of the atmosphere where birds fly and clouds float, and from which rain falls; the air.
Astron. (a) The sphere of the fixed stars, the eighth sphere of the Ptolemaic system; (b) the primum mobile whose rapid east-to-west motion imparts like movement to all the lesser spheres (not always regarded as distinct and separate from the sphere of the fixed stars); (c) any of the celestial spheres; also fig.
(a) A firm foundation; (b) establishment.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • (a1393) Gower CA (Frf 3)7.689 : Orbis..Is that which we fro therthe a ferr Beholde, and firmament it calle, In which the sterres stonden alle, Among the whiche in special Planetes sefne principal Ther ben.
  • Note: New sense: 3.(d) in the Aristotelian astronomy of Brunetto Latini: a celestial sphere surrounding the earth (cp. orbis].

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1425 Interpol.Rolle Ps.(1) (Trin-C B.5.25) 653/150 : He shal be firmament [L firmamentum] in erþe; in heiʒtes of mounteynes he shal be abouelifted.
  • Note: Editor: "Rolle translated firmamentum as festenynge, and the reviser reverts to this in the commentary. MED firmament gives the sense required here 'firm foundation' for only one case (sense 4(a)) in Pauline Epistles 1 Tim. 3: 15, where it translates the same word as here."
Note: Additional quot., sense 4.(a).