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hell

Syllabification: hell

Definition of hell in English:

noun

1A place regarded in various religions as a spiritual realm of evil and suffering, often traditionally depicted as a place of perpetual fire beneath the earth where the wicked are punished after death.
Example sentences
  • In that explanation, the hell realm was in the depths of the earth.
  • We must always remember that the purifying fires of heaven are hotter than the fires of hell.
  • Do you want reliable answers concerning issues like life, forgiveness, death, heaven or hell?
Synonyms
the netherworld, the Inferno, the infernal regions, the abyss;
eternal damnation, perdition;
Hades, Sheol, Acheron, Gehenna, Tophet
literary the pit
1.1A state or place of great suffering; an unbearable experience: I’ve been through hell he made her life hell
More example sentences
  • A callous dog owner has escaped going to jail after making his pet's life a living hell of prolonged torment.
  • It truly has been the closest thing to a living hell that I've ever experienced.
  • The stories from those inside haunts anyone who hears them, and this is perhaps the closest thing to a living hell.
Synonyms
a misery, torture, agony, a torment, a nightmare, an ordeal;
anguish, wretchedness, woe

exclamation

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1Used to express annoyance or surprise or for emphasis: oh, hell—where will this all end? hell, no, we were all married
More example sentences
  • We don't even mind that you came up with the next new year first; hell, we're used to it.
  • I suppose it hurt because, hell, no girl likes having another girl picked over her.
  • Japan is actually bigger than the UK, bigger than Italy - hell, it's even bigger than Germany.
1.1 (the hell) informal Expressing anger, contempt, or disbelief: who the hell are you? the hell you are!
More example sentences
  • The first, and perhaps greatest issue, is why the hell are the deaths censored as much as they are in this game?
  • Oh, I think you've got it all right, but whatever the hell it is you've got, keep it the hell away from me!
  • If there are no ghosts, then who the hell are all these people?

Origin

Old English hel, hell, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hel and German Hölle, from an Indo-European root meaning 'to cover or hide'.

More
  • Hell descends from an ancient Indo-European root with the sense ‘to cover, hide’ which also gave rise to Latin celare (root of conceal (Middle English) and occult) and to English hole ( see hold), helmet (Late Middle English), and heel ‘to set a plant in the ground and cover its roots’. This was originally unconnected with the Old English word for the part of the foot, but rather came from helian ‘cover’.

    The infernal regions are regarded as a place of torment or punishment, and many curses and exclamations, such as a hell of a— or one hell of a—, depend on this. These expressions used to be shocking, and until the early 20th century were usually printed as h—l or h—. Alterations such as heck (late 19th century) served the same softening purpose in speech as well as in writing. The saying hell hath no fury like a woman scorned is a near quotation from a 1697 play by William Congreve: ‘Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor Hell a fury like a woman scorned.’ The dramatist Colley Cibber had used very similar words just a year earlier, and the idea was commonplace in the Renaissance. It can be traced back to the Greek dramatist Euripides of the 5th century bc. Strictly the ‘fury’ is one of the Furies of Greek mythology, frightening goddesses who avenged wrong and punished crime, but most people now use and interpret it in the sense ‘wild or violent anger’. The proverb the road to hell is paved with good intentions dates from the late 16th century, but earlier forms existed which omitted the first three words. Grumpy and misanthropic people everywhere will agree with the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who wrote in 1944: ‘Hell is other people.’

Phrases

all hell broke loose

1
informal Suddenly there was pandemonium.
Example sentences
  • Suddenly all hell broke loose and everybody dived for cover.… It was only later that the man's story emerged.
  • Suddenly, all hell broke loose and a couple of compartments were set on fire.
  • Suddenly all hell broke loose as one of the suspects struggled free, grabbed a knife and attacked an unarmed officer.

(as) —— as hell

2
informal Used for emphasis: he’s as guilty as hell
More example sentences
  • With a famous director father and fabulous superstar mum, Liza never stood a hope in hell of achieving normality.
  • There's no chance of escape and there was no way in hell I was going to make it known that I am in the adjacent room.
  • All the other teams saw us putting up ours so began theirs, but only Carrie's team has a hope in hell of beating our masterpiece.

be hell on

3
informal Be very unpleasant or harmful to: summer can be hell on a man’s skin
More example sentences
  • We're in one of those no-fun-news cycles, which is hell on a guy who likes a happy cocktail with his evening reading.
  • Going through old blog stuff is hell on the brain.
  • Going back to Standard Time is hell on us nightowls.

catch (or get) hell

4
informal Be severely reprimanded: Paul kept his mouth shut and looked apologetic—we got hell
More example sentences
  • Of course, nothing is sweeter to a kid than imagining their parent getting hell from some other bigger older parent.
  • I get hell when I get home: ‘These stains will NEVER come out.’
  • Or just about anything, because trying to spare the person that I'm seeing or involved with at that time because it seems to be a lot of - I mean, he's probably going to get hell if he went home, if he said the truth and went home.

come hell or high water

5
Whatever difficulties may occur.
Example sentences
  • Once a good design solution is found that totally suits the product, it is stuck with consistently come hell or high water, like a good piece of product design that you know just doesn't need any more tinkering with.
  • Montreal merchants, worried that the newly-opened Erie Canal will sap business to New York, decide to build a canal of their own come hell or high water.
  • Like my long-suffering employee, I want my money to be in my bank account come hell or high water with all the deductions already made, all the expenses already claimed and I don't want to have to fill in any more forms about it.

for the hell of it

6
informal Just for fun: she walked on window ledges for the hell of it
More example sentences
  • Request a matching waistcoat just for the hell of it.
  • Eventually I'll review all the movies I've seen, just for the hell of it.
  • If you read the small print on their extremely lengthy content guidelines they basically add a clause that says they can simply delete a site if they feel like doing so, just for the hell of it!

—— from hell

7
informal An extremely unpleasant or troublesome instance or example of something: I’ve got a hangover from hell
More example sentences
  • The torment imposed by neighbours from hell can go on for years.
  • You could be caught on camera when a mobile CCTV unit takes to Southend's streets to snoop on neighbours from hell.
  • An innovative help group for residents whose lives are blighted by neighbours from hell will be piloted in two York areas.

get the hell out (of)

8
informal Escape quickly from (a place or situation): let’s all get the hell out of here
More example sentences
  • In part this is because I got the hell out quite quickly.
  • North takes his readers to a place most will never have dreamed of going before, or if they have they have quickly got the hell out.
  • There is nothing really stopping me getting the hell out of this situation.

give someone hell

9
informal Severely reprimand or make things very unpleasant for someone.
Example sentences
  • I'm looking forward to going over there and giving them hell.
  • All I do is to tell them the truth, and that hurts a lot worse than giving them hell.
  • He has got to have oxygen because his lungs are giving him hell.
Synonyms
reprimand severely, rebuke, admonish, chastise, castigate, chide, upbraid, reprove, scold, berate, remonstrate with, reprehend, take to task, lambaste;
read the riot act, give a piece of one's mind, rake/haul over the coals
informal tell off, dress down, give an earful, give a roasting, rap over the knuckles, let have it, bawl out, come down hard on, lay into, blast, chew out
harass, hound, plague, harry, bother, trouble, bully, intimidate, pick on, victimize, terrorize
informal hassle, give a hard time

go to hell

10
informal Used to express angry rejection of someone or something.
Example sentences
  • He told the judge to go to hell, declared he won't be coming back and complained once again about life as a detainee.
  • My feelings can go to hell; I'm assured that the rest of me is going there anyway.
  • Whosoever is offended by its statements must pack and go to hell!

go to (or through) hell and back

11
Endure an extremely unpleasant or difficult experience.
Example sentences
  • You went to hell and back out there… I have no idea what your strategy was.
  • I went to hell and back, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
  • ‘I was so young, and I felt like I'd just gone to hell and back,’ he said.

go to hell in a handbasket

12
North American informal Undergo a rapid process of deterioration.
Example sentences
  • Signs of a global recession inevitably conjure up thoughts of the last time the whole world went to hell in a handbasket: the Great Depression of the 1930s.
  • I usually have little sympathy with claims that the culture is going to hell in a handbasket, but after seeing those numbers, I instinctively concluded, ‘the culture is going to hell in a handbasket.’
  • You know all the Democrats are going to hell in a handbasket.

hell for leather

13
As fast as possible.
Example sentences
  • People are going to be up there going hell for leather.
  • You are left with two choices - either you let it drift, and risk losing control over the argument, or you go hell for leather and actively push it forward.
  • But we are going hell for leather to govern by ourselves.

hell's bells

14
informal An exclamation of annoyance or anger.
Example sentences
  • But hell's bells, look at it again!
  • This is not to say that I'm the most current human being on the face of the earth - hell's bells, I'm in my 70s.
  • Hell's bells, what a huge show this turned out to be.

hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

15
proverb A woman who has been rejected by a man can be ferociously angry and vindictive.
Example sentences
  • Another recipient, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘On the basis that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, we can only guess the author must suspect her husband is being unfaithful and is very bitter.’
  • They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and, as Susan Flockhart discovered, cyberspace has become the preferred instrument of revenge
  • It's been said that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so just imagine what kind of trouble you could find from an angry god.

a (or one) hell of a ——

16
informal Used to emphasize something very bad or great: it cost us a hell of a lot of money
More example sentences
  • It will take time and effort and money too, though a hell of a lot less than buying one legally.
  • I am by no means a businesswoman, but I'm pretty sure you need one hell of a lot of money to open a station.
  • It doesn't seem like it now, but it was a hell of a lot of money back then.

hell's half acre

17
North American A great distance.

hell on wheels

18

like hell

19
informal
1Very fast, much, hard, etc. (used for emphasis): it hurts like hell
More example sentences
  • All I know is that my mouth hurts like hell and I've about as much chance of getting in to see my dentist this week as I have getting into a size 10 dress.
  • I didn't really think about it much as I grew up, unless I bashed my hand against something then the tiny scar hurt like hell.
  • Either way, it hurts like hell on my right side when I breathe in.
2Used in ironic expressions of scorn or disagreement: like hell, he thought
More example sentences
  • Like hell he was going to let her win this easily, he thought angrily.
  • Yeah, like hell it is.
  • "Like hell you are," I tell him.

not a hope in hell

20
see hope.
Example sentences
  • In my view they have not a hope in hell's chance of winning back power without a radical agenda.
  • There is not a hope in hell of a review of the speed limits at present.
  • It doesn't matter that there's not a hope in hell of the stereo ever being loud enough: driving this is fun.

play hell

21
informal Make a fuss; create havoc.
Example sentences
  • Trouble was, it never got done, until the doctor himself arrived and played merry hell because I hadn't been given anything to eat or drink for almost 2 days.
  • Also, there was one weapon the enemy surprised us with in this campaign, and they played hell with us.
  • We caught up with her as she was driving home from a three hour trip along a mountainous Oregon highway that played hell with the cell-phone connection.
21.1Cause damage: the rough road played hell with the tires

the road to hell is paved with good intentions

22
proverb Promises and plans must be put into action, or else they are useless.
Example sentences
  • Unfortunately, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
  • To sum it up, the road to hell is paved with good intentions (of which the peace movement has many) but a lack of action now condemns people to life in its earthly equivalent.
  • And, of course, the road to hell is paved with good intentions…

there will be hell to pay

23
informal Serious trouble will occur as a result of a previous action.
Example sentences
  • But when they cross the wrong guy, there will be hell to pay.
  • If work does not commence on the proposed sewerage scheme for the town within one month there will be hell to pay.
  • If she gets out of line and doesn't heed their first warning, then they promised there will be hell to pay for strike two!

to hell

24
Used for emphasis: damn it to hell
More example sentences
  • Damn it to hell, Judy.
  • Damn it all, damn it all to hell.

to hell with

25
informal Expressing one’s scorn or lack of concern for (someone or something): to hell with the consequences
More example sentences
  • To hell with quality, to hell with life, to hell with savoring the moment.
  • We should have stuck to our guns, people tell me, and to hell with Liverpool and to hell with the Tory leadership.
  • These characters have a tendency to pass moral judgments based on their beliefs, and to hell with what anyone else thinks.

until (or till) hell freezes over

26
For an extremely long time or forever.
Example sentences
  • ‘I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over,’ Stevenson says.
  • At this time any informed Canberra observer knows that we will be waiting until hell freezes over.
  • Clarke responded, ‘Well, they'll say that until hell freezes over.’

what the hell

27
informal It doesn’t matter.
Example sentences
  • I'm sure more blogs will comment on this before long, but what the hell, I'm still going to.
  • You're already going to be home late, so what the hell, take it easy, give your weary eyes and brain a break.
  • My life is really too shallow and boring for a blog but what the hell, nobody actually had to read it.

Derivatives

hellward

1
adverb& adjective
Example sentences
  • Is the world hurtling hellward even faster than usual, or is it just me?
  • They are represented as performing the hellward journey on, as we infer, benevolent missions.
  • Leaving means the chaos and carnage spiral ever faster hellward.

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