I am looking for a word to describe what we see when we look up. For us, it's the sky. But, if you are, say, under the sea, that would be the surface of the sea. I need a word that can be used in both situations, because I want the conceal from the reader whether our hero is under the water looking up or on the land looking up. I thought of heavens but there is a lot of religious meaning attached to it and I am afraid it might confuse my reader. Any ideas?

Thank you


2 Answers 2


You could call it the "overhead" I suppose, but that seems rather contrived. It might be that people who spend lots of time living underwater would come to use "sky" to mean the surface of the water as seen from below. It might be worth (re)-reading Hal Clement's Ocean on Top for suggestions.

In any case, if you describe the view looking up in any detail, the difference would pretty quickly be obvious, I would think. How essential is it to refer to what is seen looking up? If it is, you need not use a single word, but just "looking upward she saw ..." and whatever you want to describe, without ever mentioning "sky" or "surface".

  • Thank you David, I opted for using the word "sky" in the sense that, for someone underwater that's what sky would mean!
    – Alexandros
    Feb 21, 2021 at 19:07

A few suggestions:

  1. firmament
  2. air
  3. the blue (yonder)
  4. the atmosphere
  5. ether
  6. the vault
  7. the arc (of heaven)

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