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What is the difference in use between "paradise" and "heaven"?

I feel that heaven is more spiritual, something that probably couldn't even be imagined. When you say paradise, you can denote something more real. Imagine a vacation on a tropical island; you can say, "I was in Bahamas. It was a paradise". But heaven is something even more unseizable.

Is my understanding correct?

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"I was in Bahamas. It was a paradise" -- not heaven. Usage-wise, we call something Paradise when referring to how it is; whereas we speak of heaven when speaking about how we feel about it. "I spent a week in the Bahamas. Life was heaven!" –  Kris May 24 '13 at 6:03
    
@Kris: "it was paradise" vs "it was heaven" in that narrow context they're pretty much the same. –  Mitch May 24 '13 at 12:23
    
"It was like heaven when Chase walked up and kissed me on my cheek that morning..." (books.google.co.in/books?id=X6Fn51cu3LcC&pg=PA61) "A paradise called Texas" (books.google.co.in/books?id=WSvcPgAACAAJ) -- ... –  Kris May 24 '13 at 12:51
    
"It was a paradise perfectly equipped for the survival of all of God's creatures ..." (books.google.co.in/books?id=VIMj6gP3Q9wC&pg=PA37) "We learned that Fairfield, "quietest town in the U.S.," was close to Travis, so I and my classmates decided to go see it for ourselves. On the way there in the cab, we came upon a nightclub with nude dancers. We had to stop and go inside. It was like heaven for us young guys. I'd never seen anything like this in my life. We never made it to Fairfield." (books.google.co.in/books?id=tLvy_THW7EAC&pg=PA136) –  Kris May 24 '13 at 12:53
    
"I'm reminded of my own kindergarten graduation years ago. Back before schools were plagued with problems like ADHD, peanut allergies, or minorities. Why, it was like heaven, no rapture required." (books.google.co.in/books?id=xmLAsxMemKgC&pg=PA148) –  Kris May 24 '13 at 12:54

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

In the literal sense, paradise is a perfect earthly world, free of misery. Heaven is where good people go when they die.

Either can be used in a metaphorical sense, and in fact, heaven probably has wider metaphorical use. It fits in your example for a tropical island, but you could also use it to describe something you find very pleasant. For example,

That chocolate ice-cream is heaven!

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I'm used to people saying "heavenly" rather than "heaven" in your ice-cream example. –  Monica Cellio Sep 15 '11 at 18:31
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People use both. Alicia Keys for example says "Motherhood is heaven." In the opinion of the Houston Chronicle "... the gingered Anarkali cocktail is heaven." –  z7sg Ѫ Sep 15 '11 at 23:28
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I'm not sure I understand your "in the literal sense...." –  jbelacqua Sep 16 '11 at 6:47
    
Thanks for response. OK, so this means that I was quite wrong, heaven is also used for earthly things... And what about paradise? Does it fit to the tropical island or the ice-cream? –  Tomas Sep 16 '11 at 8:57
    
@Tomas Yes your example is ok (although I would probably say something like "It's paradise on earth!"), and as I mentioned heaven also fits (minus the article): "I was in the Bahamas, it was heaven!" Or use Monica's suggestion: "It was heavenly." which is weaker, more simile than metaphor. –  z7sg Ѫ Sep 16 '11 at 9:45

Paradise means a heavenly beautiful place on this Earth. But Heaven refers to a place beyond the atmospheric limitation where the God reside.

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I think when Jesus said "Today you will be with me in Paradise", He meant heaven for He says to be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord.

He had to go back there to get what He shed for our sins, then He went to hell to take back the keys Adam forfeited and to take the sting out of death.

When we think of paradise it's about some place exotic for we think with our natural mind but Jesus was speaking of Spiritual things/places.

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This does not answer the question for English at large; it is simply an interpretation of a bit of Christian theology. –  Robusto Apr 8 '12 at 13:04

Heaven (from the German for sky) is specifically christian. Paradise (from Persian garden) has less distinct religious overtones

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Not specifically Christian according to this: oxforddictionaries.com/definition/heaven –  z7sg Ѫ Sep 15 '11 at 23:23
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While it's true that, for example, heofon in Old English may have changed meaning due to Christianization, it would also be silly to say that the way we use heaven today is specifically Christian; we obviously use it both in figurative senses and to refer to a variety of religions when discussing them in English. I'm also not sure why you say that paradise is less religious: it got much of its connotation because it referred to the Garden of Eden. –  aedia λ Sep 16 '11 at 6:21
    
See infidelguy.com/heaven_sky.htm –  jbelacqua Sep 16 '11 at 6:46

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