Definition of hell in English:

hell

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:

    ‘irreligious children were assumed to have passed straight to the eternal fires of hell’
    • ‘But I'm committed to the teaching of the scriptures that there is a heaven and a hell.’
    • ‘We must always remember that the purifying fires of heaven are hotter than the fires of hell.’
    • ‘If this is true, then the burning fires of hell would be the coziest place imaginable.’
    • ‘I believe I am making my own hell or heaven now and that my after life will be what I deserve.’
    • ‘All those whose names are not written in the book of life will be thrown into hell, the lake of fire, and the sentence will be eternal.’
    • ‘It teaches that there is no eternal hell or damnation and every soul has the capacity to realize the Truth.’
    • ‘In that explanation, the hell realm was in the depths of the earth.’
    • ‘Then the soul is sent either to heaven to enjoy the fruits of a decent life or condemned to eternal hell and damnation forever.’
    • ‘Do you want reliable answers concerning issues like life, forgiveness, death, heaven or hell?’
    • ‘Like everyone else I know, I am a first-timer on this earth and can shed no light on the existence of an afterlife or heaven and hell.’
    • ‘The hell of this world is all the hell I will endure and it is all the heaven unbelievers will ever enjoy.’
    • ‘No criminal could be as cruel as the God who would consign human beings to a hell.’
    • ‘They conceived the idea that God dwells within each person and that heaven and hell exist here and now on earth.’
    • ‘So God's holiness makes hell as inevitable as his love makes heaven.’
    • ‘Heaven and hell are eternal states with no movement of people from one to the other.’
    the netherworld, the abode of the dead, the land of the dead, the infernal regions, the inferno, the nether regions, the abyss
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A situation, experience, or place of great suffering:
      ‘I've been through hell’
      ‘he made her life hell’
      • ‘He spent six weeks in a living hell all because of his thoughtlessness!’
      • ‘It's been going on for three years - it's a living hell and we've decided enough is enough.’
      • ‘Before long, an unspeakable hell of gunfire, death and destruction surround you.’
      • ‘They are suffering terribly but their mind is perfect, so it is a living hell.’
      • ‘You vow you're going to make his/her life a living hell as long as you are alive.’
      • ‘After the death, staff at the home became intolerably cruel to her and made her life a living hell.’
      • ‘You can say that your life has been a living hell for the last few months.’
      • ‘It truly has been the closest thing to a living hell that I've ever experienced.’
      • ‘It's marvellous for two days, then you feel like you're in a living hell.’
      • ‘The people around him had no idea that it was really a living hell for him.’
      • ‘Jail is in many ways worse anyway, with life inside being a living hell.’
      • ‘The mold, the weather, and my sinuses are conspiring to make my life a living hell.’
      • ‘It attracts the drug trade and expands it and simply makes life a living hell.’
      • ‘If you know what local television is like in the Philippines you know what a living hell it was.’
      • ‘That girl, now that I think back, showed me that not all girls were like those ones who had made my life hell at such an impressionable age.’
      • ‘The stories from those inside haunts anyone who hears them, and this is perhaps the closest thing to a living hell.’
      • ‘For my husband and thousands like him, life really is a living hell.’
      • ‘A callous dog owner has escaped going to jail after making his pet's life a living hell of prolonged torment.’
      • ‘I may as well live in a fiery inferno, for God's sake, because my life has become a living hell!’
      • ‘Why do you continue to make my life a living hell now you are dead?’
      a misery, purgatory, hell on earth, torture, agony, a torment, a nightmare, an ordeal, a trauma
      View synonyms

exclamation

also the hell
  • Used for emphasis or to express anger, contempt, or surprise:

    ‘oh, hell—where will this all end?’
    ‘who the hell are you?’
    • ‘I guess it was going to happen sooner or later - hell, I predicted it about a month ago.’
    • ‘I checked the ticket in the machine and the parking was free of charge - hell, what a bonus.’
    • ‘I like games and I know they can be addictive but, hell, killing over one is just plain stupid.’
    • ‘Japan is actually bigger than the UK, bigger than Italy - hell, it's even bigger than Germany.’
    • ‘We will not come out with a firm argument this week - hell, we might not even print this issue.’
    • ‘I suppose it hurt because, hell, no girl likes having another girl picked over her.’
    • ‘We don't even mind that you came up with the next new year first; hell, we're used to it.’
    • ‘I tried to work out if they were pitying or despising me but, hell, it made no difference.’
    • ‘I don't see any dishonour in this at all; hell, isn't it how Parliament is supposed to work?’
    • ‘I went to this cheap salon in Madison, the girl put some fluid on my head and, hell, my hair went green and hard.’
    • ‘You can't afford a gun safety class; hell, you can barely afford the gun.’
    • ‘Green was the color of their clothes and equipment and, hell, the name stuck.’
    • ‘He responded that he certainly had an opinion about the movie - hell, he made it, in fact.’
    • ‘As a matter of fact, nobody else in the whole Australian squad could but, hell, with Warne you just never know.’
    • ‘She was sure the neighbours could hear them as well - hell, the whole terrace could probably hear them.’
    • ‘Without the blues, there is no Elvis or Chuck Berry, no Rolling Stones and, hell, no Justin Timberlake.’
    • ‘Plus we love our food and, hell, we were stuck with each other for fatter or thinner.’
    • ‘Don't give it a second thought; hell, most other magazine editors don't.’
    • ‘It also says to people smuggling drugs - hell, if you're caught, you might as well shoot it out.’

Phrases

  • all hell breaks (or is let) loose

    • informal Suddenly there is pandemonium:

      ‘the police arrived one night and all hell broke loose’
      • ‘A raucous screech flooded her head and suddenly all hell broke loose.’
      • ‘All hell would have broken loose if a fraction of these acts had been performed by the other side.’
      • ‘Suddenly, all hell broke loose and a couple of compartments were set on fire.’
      • ‘But that's what he got - and all hell broke loose.’
      • ‘We'd simply been reading a map when all hell broke loose, and now there were more than a dozen men milling around and telling us they were going to take Andrew's bike and we must go with them to the police station.’
      • ‘Suddenly all hell broke loose and everybody dived for cover.… It was only later that the man's story emerged.’
      • ‘Over the next few weeks, all hell broke loose on campus.’
      • ‘‘All of a sudden, all hell broke loose,’ he told magistrates.’
      • ‘Suddenly, all hell broke loose; there was gunfire and explosions everywhere.’
      • ‘It always starts with an investigative article in either The Washington Post or The New York Times, and all hell is let loose.’
      • ‘And then all hell broke loose when he walked out.’
      • ‘Suddenly all hell broke loose as one of the suspects struggled free, grabbed a knife and attacked an unarmed officer.’
      • ‘‘We were there until 11 pm and then all hell broke loose,’ said the prison officer.’
      • ‘But as soon as I say I'm only interested in Asians, suddenly all hell breaks loose!’
      • ‘And then all hell broke loose on the night of March 10 that year.’
      • ‘They give him a learning support assistant but as soon as things start to improve they withdraw it and all hell is let loose.’
      • ‘When the final whistle blew all hell broke loose.’
      • ‘Chances are, you might be a little shaken up if you happened to be down at Vinyl Lounge on Saturday night, when all hell broke loose outside the club.’
      • ‘They agreed to meet and had nominated two of four delegates when Beverley arrived to ask them if they had their delegation organised and all hell broke loose.’
      • ‘But when I got to Los Angeles at the age of 22, all hell broke loose.’
  • (as) —— as hell

    • informal Used for emphasis:

      ‘he's as guilty as hell’
      • ‘We were stubborn as hell but we were hanging on by our fingernails.’
      • ‘If I were a prospective sponsor and looked at their site, I'd sure as hell change my mind.’
      • ‘It's not great art or anything, but their drummer sure as hell earns the money.’
      • ‘And with that he left the room, leaving Craig feeling as guilty as hell for something he doesn't remember doing.’
      • ‘However, she's also mad as hell and really isn't going to take it anymore.’
      • ‘But it's sure as hell got to be the best way, the only way, to mainline pure adrenaline in the cinema.’
      • ‘Tom Chaplin and the boys are back and this time they are mad as hell.’
      • ‘I'm still out here, running free and as guilty as hell.’
      • ‘There are magazines on the coffee table in front of me, and I'm feeling nervous as hell.’
      • ‘She could be fine as hell, but if you have conflicting issues all the time, it's not gonna work.’
      • ‘If that's being politically correct than we sure as hell know what side of the argument we're on.’
      • ‘Tallis, professor of geriatric medicine at Manchester, is mad as hell and he's not going to take any more.’
      • ‘I woke up this morning somewhat before my alarm went off, feeling nauseous as hell.’
      • ‘I thought it was funny as hell, and kept laughing throughout the day every time I thought of it.’
      • ‘We sure as hell ought to be able to do it the second time in less time than the first, if nothing else.’
      • ‘I sure as hell wouldn't want to be treated as second fiddle, so why do some of us treat others that way?’
      • ‘He sure as hell hates losing and doesn't just want win, he wants to rub it in.’
      • ‘He looks as guilty as hell and I realise we would be denying cruel destiny if I did not now make it my business to find out what he thinks he is guilty of.’
      • ‘Either he was drunk as hell or just as stupid as hell… well… he was probably both.’
      • ‘Are they now going to pay my direct debits which are due this week because I sure as hell can't without my tax credits?’
  • be hell on

    • informal Be very unpleasant or harmful to:

      ‘the fungus is hell on grasshoppers’
      • ‘Only problem is, driving around with 2,000 pounds of papers in my back seat is hell on my car.’
      • ‘Then we told him that almost flying into mountains is hell on the nervous system, not fun.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I cringed, this all must have been hell on his burnt hand.’
      • ‘The impact was hell on his new bullet wounds and he found that he was bleeding quite profusely.’
      • ‘Going back to Standard Time is hell on us nightowls.’
      • ‘War is hell on a president and his approval ratings.’
      • ‘Health foods need not be hell on your tastebuds.’
      • ‘Staying at all those run-down places has been hell on my back.’
      • ‘Have I ever mentioned this knight-in-shining-armor thing is hell on the muscles?’
      • ‘Hey, from the looks of it, it's been hell on you, too.’
      • ‘Going through old blog stuff is hell on the brain.’
      • ‘But the after effects were hell on her mind and body.’
      • ‘This was hell on horse's hooves, considering the hot pavement they had to walk on for much of the way.’
      • ‘It would be hell on business, though, so we skip it.’
  • come hell or high water

    • Whatever difficulties may occur:

      ‘come hell or high water, cooking three meals a day is a mighty task’
      • ‘It wouldn't be because you had already made up your mind on what you were determined to do, come hell or high water, would it?’
      • ‘I hate confrontations with a passion but I wasn't going to back down, come hell or high water.’
      • ‘Reporters cultivate an image of dogged truth-seekers who kick up rocks and report what they find come hell or high water.’
      • ‘I am a sceptic and believe this government is committed to membership come hell or high water.’
      • ‘I wanted more, I wanted a baby come hell or high water.’
      • ‘Since she is teetering on the brink of one of her moods, this is an outing that will come to fruition come hell or high water.’
      • ‘Either way the Dominican College is determined to maintain the rugby ethos, come hell or high water.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Alien agrees to ensure, come hell or high water, that he attends the scheduled appointment, as the prospect of attempting to reschedule is unthinkable.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘By now I was determined I was going to preach that sermon come hell or high water.’
      • ‘The strategy is pretty much the same as that drawn up by the Romans: Find and support local strongmen who can deliver the goods to the imperial capital, come hell or high water.’
      • ‘This decision to remain silent will disappoint readers who expect The Detroit News to stand with the Republican presidential candidate come hell or high water.’
      • ‘This is probably a good enough reason, by itself, why the elections should go ahead, come hell or high water.’
      • ‘A quarter of a century earlier a young man and woman promised to wed each other, come hell or high water.’
      • ‘They were there to hear some great blues, and come hell or high water, they were going to hear it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Madge replied: ‘Oh yes, that's just my husband Syd, I told him he was going to cut the grass today come hell or high water!’’
      • ‘But it looks like that won't happen, so, come hell or high water, I am getting a job at Starbucks.’
      • ‘I really like her work, so I was pretty much going to go and see this show come hell or high water.’
      by some means, in some way, no matter how, somehow or other, by fair means or foul, by hook or by crook, come what may, come hell or high water
      View synonyms
  • for the hell of it

    • informal Just for fun:

      ‘she walked on window ledges for the hell of it’
      • ‘What I haven't tried at least once for the hell of it, I think I could figure out.’
      • ‘In tinder-dry conditions, the fire service could do without reckless idiots setting fires just for the hell of it.’
      • ‘Just for the hell of it, I went back and tried 4 tickets, which also worked.’
      • ‘Maybe I'll drive around the block a few times just for the hell of it.’
      • ‘My favourite kind of lie is the pointless but plausible lie; the odd nugget of needless fiction dropped into conversation just for the hell of it.’
      • ‘Eventually I'll review all the movies I've seen, just for the hell of it.’
      • ‘We'd watch cars and people going by just for the hell of it.’
      • ‘It's not just photographing your life for 24 hours for the hell of it or the pure vanity.’
      • ‘I'm never tied down; few things could keep me from flying to Fiji tomorrow, just for the hell of it.’
      • ‘I decided to give myself a one-second burst 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!’
      • ‘I've known academics who speak Latin for the hell of it.’
      • ‘I've used Pythagoras' Theorem about twice - just for the hell of it.’
      • ‘Or do we have a lot more criminals interfering with other people's property just for the hell of it?’
      • ‘To get round this - and, I'm sure, just for the hell of it - the doors have two hinges, the second about a foot in from the first.’
      • ‘I'm curious what other extreme sports you might be into or just have tried for the hell of it.’
      • ‘They bring you down, only to bring you back up again, just for the hell of it.’
      • ‘Now, I don't disrespect McDonalds for the hell of it - they're a successful machine that works very well.’
      • ‘I've had more fun this last week than I can remember having in a long time, which just goes to show - sometimes you should do stuff just for the hell of it.’
      • ‘Request a matching waistcoat just for the hell of it.’
  • —— from hell

    • informal An extremely unpleasant or troublesome example of something:

      ‘neighbours from hell’
      • ‘A Swindon family had a holiday from hell in a Spanish hotel where hundreds of guests were struck down with a mystery bug.’
      • ‘I have the headache from hell, my throat is killing me, and my sinuses hurt.’
      • ‘I woke up this morning with one of my headaches from hell - the kind that makes my whole body shiver and turns my head into a cannonball.’
      • ‘In this service station from hell, there was one diesel pump open.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, they forgot to include surviving the honeymoon from hell in their vows.’
      • ‘My next door neighbours have turned into the customers from hell.’
      • ‘Residents living in a Penhill street are celebrating the end of a family from hell's reign of abuse and intimidation.’
      • ‘We're in the middle of what they said would be Tony's week from hell.’
      • ‘Some people go on holiday to get away from the neighbours from hell.’
      • ‘An innovative help group for residents whose lives are blighted by neighbours from hell will be piloted in two York areas.’
      • ‘Landlords have expressed concerns over a crackdown on neighbours from hell.’
      • ‘Lucas also finished his job from hell on Friday so we went out for a long big breakfast on Saturday morning to celebrate.’
      • ‘The torment imposed by neighbours from hell can go on for years.’
      • ‘Holidaymakers have told of their charter flight from hell that should have taken four hours - but lasted two days.’
      • ‘However, we all seem to have the cold from hell at the moment, so this organisation could all go rapidly down hill in the near future.’
      • ‘A programme about neighbours from hell is guaranteed to get me put into a psychiatric ward for my own safety.’
      • ‘I felt as if I got smashed last night and was now experiencing the hangover from hell.’
      • ‘If you are a normal, hard working, sensible teacher, this is your week from hell.’
      • ‘The other guests must have thought it was their holiday from hell.’
      • ‘You could be caught on camera when a mobile CCTV unit takes to Southend's streets to snoop on neighbours from hell.’
  • get hell

    • informal Be severely reprimanded:

      ‘she got hell on the way home’
      • ‘He had probably spent four hours getting hell from her for what she had read in my journals.’
      • ‘Neither one of us wants to have children, because we feel that passing on our genes would be a form of child abuse (sure, they're great in adults, but kids like us get hell in school).’
      • ‘There's no way you could have gone home as drunk as you were and not get hell from your aunt, so you must have crashed somewhere.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘‘In the forest…’ Christopher trailed off, knowing he was going to get hell for a response like that.’
      • ‘But the chauffeur knew he'd get hell from her if he didn't help her, so he quickly extended his hand to her.’
      • ‘Did I ever get hell from my dad about it - he wasn't as violent back then, but he sure roughed me up a lot.’
      • ‘They are going to get hell when the social worker visits next month from the police.’
      • ‘He's going to get hell about the mess here though.’
      • ‘Randy still wasn't comfortable telling anyone Calvin's name; for fear that Calvin could get hell from the police.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If I hear any fighting you're going to get hell, okay mister?’
      • ‘I was going to get hell for that whenever I return to school after the cruise.’
      • ‘If I didn't already tell you, I was a prima ballerina… if anyone reading this can think of a more manly name for ballerina, please let me know, because I got hell in school because of it.’
      be severely reprimanded, be upbraided, be scolded, get a scolding, be admonished, be castigated, be rebuked, be chastised, be censured, be criticized severely, be taken to task, get into trouble, be hauled over the coals
      catch it, get what for, be told off, get into deep water, get into hot water, get into shtook, get a dressing-down, get an earful, get a roasting, get a rocket, get a rollicking, get a rap over the knuckles, get a slap on the wrist
      View synonyms
  • give someone hell

    • informal Severely reprimand or make things very unpleasant for someone:

      ‘I gave him hell’
      • ‘Because Vera refused to do her work, Bridget has been giving her hell.’
      • ‘I keep screwing up the spelling on people's names, and my editor gives me hell for it.’
      • ‘In the end, she decided to show him, knowing she would be given hell if he ever found out that she knew and didn't tell him.’
      • ‘If your eyes are still a wreck after all that effort, complain to your coworkers that your new contact lenses are giving you hell, even if you don't wear any.’
      • ‘But he was giving Connie hell when I left the house this morning to look for you.’
      • ‘I took the plunge to be different even if others give me hell for it.’
      • ‘All I can say is that if it happened here, the court would really give him hell for wasting its time.’
      • ‘I know of another man who bought his daughter a car for her 21st birthday and she wrote it off when she wrapped it around a telegraph pole while doing 70 miles and hour and his wife gave him hell for getting the girl such a fast car.’
      • ‘After laying down like a dead thing all day she found enough fight to give me hell.’
      • ‘It was a week since Robert had left and Victoria was giving Clara hell.’
      • ‘He's been giving me hell ever since they got engaged.’
      • ‘Indeed, he usually proceeded with the air of a man on his way to give somebody hell.’
      • ‘Back in the late 80s and early 90s, feminists within liberal groups would give you hell if you talked about women like that.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And I will give him hell from the cradle to the grave.’
      • ‘I'm going to give you hell, but I love every one of you.’
      • ‘Driving him home, I gave him hell, in my tired, hungover way.’
      • ‘I can hear that screechy voice of hers giving me hell - but she took care of me.’
      reprimand severely, rebuke, admonish, chastise, chide, upbraid, reprove, reproach, scold, remonstrate with, berate, take to task, pull up, castigate, lambaste, read someone the riot act, give someone a piece of one's mind, haul over the coals, lecture, criticize, censure
      harass, hound, plague, badger, harry, pester, bother, worry, annoy, trouble, bully, intimidate, pick on, bait, molest, bedevil, victimize, terrorize
      View synonyms
  • go to hell

    • informal Used to express angry rejection of someone or something:

      ‘you can go to hell’
      • ‘Sometimes I get mail from extremist religious people who think I should go to hell.’
      • ‘Lengthy as it is, this method at least makes it less likely that you will cast a vote for someone who thinks you should go to hell.’
      • ‘Enough of all of that, for me work will not exist for the next few days, self preservation has taken over and they can go to hell.’
      • ‘Whosoever is offended by its statements must pack and go to hell!’
      • ‘My feelings can go to hell; I'm assured that the rest of me is going there anyway.’
      • ‘He told them to go to hell since he could afford a funeral and consolation banquet for his brother at a much lower sum.’
      • ‘My knee is jiggling under the desk, my focus has vanished and this flier I'm working on can go to hell.’
      • ‘In his arms, her form captured in his cold blue eyes, she was home, safe and the world could go to hell for all it mattered to her.’
      • ‘But as far as I am concerned, all those fancy words can go to hell for this is where I love and long to be.’
      • ‘Yesterday, he threatened to boycott today's proceedings and told the judge to go to hell.’
      • ‘She has the unbelievably rare quality of being able to tell you how go to hell when needed.’
      • ‘I asked him to leave the room, put on the rest of my clothes, knocked on his office door, told him to go to hell, and left.’
      • ‘Bobby will come in for severe criticism from the press later, but they can all go to hell.’
      • ‘We must also stop granting planning permission for major developments with huge car parks on the basis that everyone has a car and the rest of us can go to hell.’
      • ‘I wish I didn't need his money and I could tell him to go to hell but truth is, without his donation they wouldn't be able to go to school camp.’
      • ‘So as far as I am concerned your unhappily married personage can go to hell.’
      • ‘As long as he can show his personal badge of aerobic involvement, the environment, we may presume, can go to hell.’
      • ‘I know I was being slightly irrational, but at this point logic could go to hell as far as I was concerned.’
      • ‘They simply want what they want and God can go to hell for all they care if he stands in the way of what they want.’
      • ‘He told the judge to go to hell, declared he won't be coming back and complained once again about life as a detainee.’
  • go to (or through) hell and back

    • Endure an extremely unpleasant or difficult experience:

      ‘he's been to hell and back since he was publicly blamed for Saturday's home defeat’
      • ‘He'd gone through hell and back, and almost died.’
      • ‘She has gone to hell and back but mum has always been there for us.’
      • ‘He was soaked with sweat and blood - although most of it wasn't his - and looked like he had gone through hell and back.’
      • ‘You'd think the fact that they have gone to hell and back might be a helpful foundation.’
      • ‘You went to hell and back out there… I have no idea what your strategy was.’
      • ‘We went through hell and back during our training days.’
      • ‘Well if he cared for me, he would have told them to go to hell and back again.’
      • ‘He would go to hell and back for her.’
      • ‘‘I went through hell and back and then back again,’ says the 31-year-old San Diego human resources executive.’
      • ‘He would go to hell and back, and that is what he does.’
      • ‘Lance you have to clean your room, or at least help us, it looks like it went through hell and back, more then once.’
      • ‘‘Every mother is prepared to go to hell and back for their children,’ says Carol.’
      • ‘‘I need to talk to you, Angel,’ he stated like a man who seemed to have gone to hell and back.’
      • ‘Hey, you look like you've gone to hell and back.’
      • ‘He had gone through hell and back to save her after trying so hard to conceal the truth.’
      • ‘I went to hell and back, but I wouldn't have it any other way.’
      • ‘I always think of that last scene where he's gone through hell and back, then he looks deep in the mirror and sees himself from a new perspective.’
      • ‘‘I know, darling, I know,’ she said, ‘But your sister has gone to hell and back with this whole thing since then!’’
      • ‘He heard someone walking towards him, some boy who looked like he had just gone through hell and back.’
      • ‘‘I was so young, and I felt like I'd just gone to hell and back,’ he said.’
  • hell for leather

    • As fast as possible:

      ‘I tore hell for leather out of my garage’
      • ‘I asked the lads at half-time to raise the profile of the game, to go hell for leather for the opening exchanges of the second half.’
      • ‘In case you haven't heard, this year's census will feature ‘Irish’ as an ethnic minority status for the first time - and Irish community leaders are going hell for leather to make sure it gets filled in.’
      • ‘Both sides were still going hell for leather at the end of the match and the tackles continued to go flying in fiercely even as injury time ticked away.’
      • ‘We have been working hell for leather to get it finished and it is a new, exciting learning curve for me, and I have got two great girls working for me.’
      • ‘But we are going hell for leather to govern by ourselves.’
      • ‘He was going hell for leather and the noises he was making were truly spectacular.’
      • ‘Outside rugby I'm a fairly placid guy but once I'm on the pitch I go hell for leather.’
      • ‘People are going to be up there going hell for leather.’
      • ‘The muscles really get a good work out without going all hell for leather either.’
      • ‘But we've got three short stages to do tomorrow and we'll just have to go hell for leather and make sure we overtake Marcus.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Careering towards her are four two-year-olds, pedalling hell for leather on miniature cars.’
      • ‘But unless you're going hell for leather at your keyboard, don't put them at the end of every sentence you type!’
      • ‘The last movement, so easily a tiresome adjunct, was played hell for leather.’
      • ‘It looks like the allies are going hell for leather to get it over with.’
      • ‘Both managers chose to string five across the midfield, causing some congestion in that area, but it underlined their determination to go hell for leather in search of all three points.’
      • ‘Both sides went for it hell for leather on the restart.’
      • ‘We know they'd go hell for leather for it… there was no question of complacency, it was just that our forwards did not click on the day, especially in the first half.’
      • ‘Shoe shop manager Mark Haynes is a secret tough man, who likes nothing better than running hell for leather in the roughest of conditions.’
      • ‘The wind machine goes hell for leather as the clouds in the moonlit sky float serenely.’
      as fast as possible, as quickly as possible, very fast, very quickly, very rapidly, very speedily, very swiftly, hurriedly, at full speed, at the double, at full tilt, at full pelt, headlong, hotfoot, post-haste, pell-mell, helter-skelter, at the speed of light, at breakneck speed, like an arrow from a bow
      like a bat out of hell, at a lick, like the wind, like greased lightning, at warp speed, like a bomb, like mad, like crazy, like blazes
      like the clappers, at a rate of knots, like billy-o
      lickety-split
      apace, hurry-scurry
      View synonyms
  • hell's bells

    • informal An exclamation of annoyance or anger:

      ‘Hell's bells, Don, you're being unreasonable’
      • ‘Now it's… it's… hell's bells we don't even know what this bit sounds like but it's genius whatever it is.’
      • ‘Hell's bells, what a huge show this turned out to be.’
      • ‘But hell's bells, look at it again!’
      • ‘No, I did not, but hell's bells, I'm glad it did!’
      • ‘Well hell's bells, David certainly made that happen.’
      • ‘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 hath no fury like a woman scorned

    • proverb A woman who has been rejected by a man can be ferociously angry and vindictive.

      • ‘They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As Kristine learned first hand on their date, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘Oh, believe you me, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!’
  • a (or one) hell of a ——

    • informal Used to emphasize something very bad or great:

      ‘the car cost a hell of a lot of money’
      • ‘They have asked Santa for bikes because they have a hell of a lot of cycling to do.’
      • ‘Assuming we get any takers at all in this mad scheme, it should be a hell of a lot of fun.’
      • ‘With these aircraft coming to the end of their lives, the cost of replacing them is a hell of a lot of money.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Like a broken refrigerator, they're also capable of making one hell of a racket and a lot of tears.’
      • ‘Aren't we, by sending one or two artists to Venice, just spending a hell of a lot of money on a good party?’
      • ‘Even its biggest advocates would have to admit that it really is one hell of a lot of hot air blowing slowly round the internet.’
      • ‘I have been to a hell of a lot of South American and Central American countries.’
      • ‘It will take time and effort and money too, though a hell of a lot less than buying one legally.’
      • ‘For that, cafe owners gained by selling me a hell of a lot of coffee while I surfed the web.’
      • ‘Especially if one or both of the kids is home all day, it's one hell of a lot of work.’
      • ‘It cost them a hell of a lot more to rip it all up and restore it to its original condition when people abandoned it for the out of town mall.’
      • ‘If they had ever dared to broach the subject with me at the time, my poor parents would have had one hell of a lot of explaining to do.’
      • ‘And I have to admit that there is one hell of a lot of good source material I could be using.’
      • ‘It takes a hell of a lot of money to put on this masquerade in front of the public.’
      • ‘I am confident one hell of a lot will happen on the Waterfront over the next five years.’
      • ‘It doesn't seem like it now, but it was a hell of a lot of money back then.’
      • ‘It would need one hell of a lot of earthworms to digest that sort of quantity, and the beds and borders aren't getting any fuller.’
      • ‘The press had written me off, I've been through a hell of a lot but I came through.’
      • ‘The reason the girls are outperforming the lads is because they work a hell of a lot harder.’
  • —— the hell out of

    • informal Used in verbal phrases to emphasize force, speed, etc.:

      ‘let's get the hell out of here’
      • ‘But for those who want nothing else I would say yeah, the movie is liable to scare the hell out of you.’
      • ‘There are plenty of people happy to earn a living kicking the hell out of the white working-class male.’
      • ‘As a tourist, quite often getting a ride on a scooter, or moto, was the only way to get around and they scared the hell out of me.’
      • ‘I can honestly say, right now, the Internet is boring the hell out of me in a bigger way than at any other point in my eight years online.’
      • ‘There's no point to them, they're filthy and they annoy the hell out of every other living creature on the planet.’
      • ‘Suddenly you feel yourself resenting the hell out of the department store, the one with the famous name on the door.’
      • ‘If you want a car that scares the hell out of little old men and woman this is it.’
      • ‘But he has irritated the hell out of people for years, so why has he lasted?’
      • ‘The potential was there to truly scare the hell out of the audience and at the same time deliver some good drama.’
      • ‘It annoys the hell out of me when other people do it, so this entry is probably annoying the hell out of someone else right now.’
      • ‘They'll only succeed in annoying the hell out of us, and annoyed smokers calm down by lighting up.’
      • ‘Jim can change from sensitive man to monster at the flick of a subconscious switch, and it scares the hell out of Mike.’
      • ‘And it's starting to scare the hell out of me, because each one undermines the hope in the other.’
      • ‘I kind of live by the edict that I like to scare the hell out of myself sometimes.’
      • ‘Heavier trains, you see, tend to bash the hell out of the infrastructure.’
      • ‘They could pick the hell out of it and find more mistakes than that.’
      • ‘It frustrates the hell out of me because everybody knows how proud a man I am and how much I think about this football club.’
      • ‘Ever wondered why your pet puss scratches the hell out of your favourite chair?’
      • ‘Anyway, in an obvious attempt to confuse the hell out of me, the postman woke me up today by hammering on the door.’
      • ‘I turned round to see one of these youths knocking the hell out of another bespectacled youth, not one of their party.’
  • hell's half acre

    • A great distance.

  • hell, west, and crooked

    • informal All over the place:

      ‘she's running hell, west, and crooked’
      • ‘At the end of the day, the "miracle economy" and the "productivity gains" which are touted hell, west and crooked, are overstated.’
      • ‘They soon spread over the country, running hell, west and crooked, shaking off their packs and mixing things up generally.’
      • ‘They were right in the thick of it, with shells landing hell, west and crooked, all round them.’
      • ‘Usually very reserved, her husband was crashing around the living-room, sending magazines and knitting hell, west and crooked.’
      • ‘Hell, West and crooked is how a local woman describes the desert that surrounds The Hill.’
  • in hell

    • informal Used for emphasis:

      ‘what in hell have you got there?’
  • like hell

    • 1informal Very fast, much, hard, etc. (used for emphasis):

      ‘my head hurts like hell’
      • ‘One witness described Jackson as ‘fighting like hell with the steering wheel’ as he drove along at speed.’
      • ‘Either way, you pay in full, and yes, it invariably hurts like hell.’
      • ‘He runs like hell, shelters between a television news van and a car, and covers his nose and mouth with his T-shirt.’
      • ‘Either way, it hurts like hell on my right side when I breathe in.’
      • ‘Two bites on my arm have come up and they itch like hell.’
      • ‘I mean, we've had moments in which we've sweated like hell, but the end result has been astonishingly good.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Believe me there will be a time when you miss it like hell!’
      • ‘I moved to this flat from the house opposite and we moved by standing on one side of the main road with a wardrobe, waiting for a gap in the traffic, and then running like hell.’
      • ‘The story wouldn't be about winners, and winning, it would be about losers fighting like hell to avoid another loss.’
      • ‘It really is a magnificent bruise and I have no doubt it hurts like hell.’
      • ‘I can't blame them if they do decide to leave, but I can't say I won't resent it like hell.’
      • ‘What I may end up doing is trying to get to work really early, then leaving work early and hoping like hell I get there before she leaves.’
      • ‘My legs hurt like hell though - was it the dog, or the cycling?’
      • ‘You kick 'em in the spine when they're not looking and run like hell.’
      • ‘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 grabbed a spade and frantically dug a hole in the garden, hoping like hell my flatmate wouldn't turn up during the process.’
      • ‘He'd been granted a purpose and was trying like hell to set a good example.’
      • ‘She's alive, and she's fighting like hell to live, and she's begging for help.’
      • ‘‘But we all come to work like hell for a few years and then take our money home to Poland,’ he said.’
    • 2informal Used in ironic expressions of scorn or disagreement:

      ‘like hell, he thought’
      • ‘Like hell he was going to let her win this easily, he thought angrily.’
      • ‘"Like hell you are," I tell him.’
      • ‘Yeah, like hell it is.’
  • not a hope in hell

    • see hope
      • ‘The Party is in self-destruct mode, and there is not a hope in hell that it will ever regain power.’
      • ‘There is not a hope in hell of a review of the speed limits at present.’
      • ‘There was not a sniff of what was coming, not a hope in hell.’
      • ‘In my view they have not a hope in hell's chance of winning back power without a radical agenda.’
      • ‘There's not a hope in hell of finding my entry that predates me having a blog.’
      • ‘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 (or merry hell)

    • 1informal Create havoc:

      ‘the kids play merry hell until she tells them to go to bed at once’
      • ‘The huge chunk of ice has played merry hell with the normal ocean currents, stopping much of the sea ice from breaking up during the Antarctic summer.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When you can't eat, or get sick from antibiotics, which play hell with your stomach, when you can finally eat, Burger King seems very appealing.’
      • ‘Labor's policy was to play merry hell with health, education and the police.’
      • ‘My informant excused himself shortly afterwards, on the grounds that his associate would play merry hell if he was late for lunch.’
      • ‘Also, there was one weapon the enemy surprised us with in this campaign, and they played hell with us.’
      • ‘He wanted her gone because she was playing hell with his senses.’
      • ‘But I would have played hell if it hadn't been offered.’
      • ‘The news played hell with the parents of the children, who were on the verge on going hysterical.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Eventually I have always lost money, because these places sell drinks and that plays hell on my concentration.’
      • ‘On a beautiful, cloudless day it was utterly icy cold and there was a ‘lazy wind’ (it cuts straight through you rather than bothering to go round) that was playing hell with my attempts at backhand passes.’
      • ‘Whatever force was playing merry hell with her life, she had the strong feeling that it wasn't through with them yet.’
      • ‘This fun series plays merry hell with biographical facts.’
      • ‘The Sri Lankan cricketers are a worried lot, since their contracts have not been renewed yet with the officials playing merry hell according to information received by Rover.’
      • ‘We found the leftmost track the easiest, but we're still talking tricky and they'll play hell with your pedalling rhythm, as the lane you're in ends with frustrating regularity and everyone else's lane looks a much better bet…’
      • ‘This played hell with us in the classroom the next day as we would lose lots of sleep.’
      • ‘Constant honking was heard throughout the day playing hell with a peaceful residential locality.’
      • ‘You'll do anything to be near them, accepting pot after pot of coffee, even though it'll play hell with your plumbing.’
      1. 1.1Cause damage:
        ‘the rough road played hell with the tyres’
        • ‘It plays hell with your social life.’
        • ‘Sometimes I think these people would be annoyed if Jesus did return, because it would play hell with their fundraising.’
        • ‘Of course, sand does play hell on your kit, but I don't really think that's the point the LA Times was trying to get across.’
        • ‘It plays hell with contact lenses and the officers' laptop computers, and clogs up weapons, which have to be cleaned daily.’
  • the road to hell is paved with good intentions

    • proverb Promises and plans must be put into action, otherwise they are useless.

      • ‘They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
      • ‘However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
      • ‘So too, the national lottery, which promised a stairway to heaven, has to date served to confirm how often the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
      • ‘It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
      • ‘You know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and all…’
      • ‘But the road to hell is paved with good intentions that have already created far too much anguish and hatred.’
      • ‘More in sorrow than in anger, Shawcross discovers anew that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
      • ‘And so he discovers the road to hell is paved with good intentions and commonplace aspirations.’
      • ‘As many ambitious people find, however, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
      • ‘While I wait for progress out of this mess I'll think of that puritan saying that 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.’
      • ‘But, as soon becomes clear, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
      • ‘They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
      • ‘And, of course, the road to hell is paved with good intentions…’
      • ‘Unfortunately, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
  • there will be hell to pay

    • informal Serious trouble will occur as a result of a previous or proposed action:

      ‘when I got it wrong, there would be hell to pay’
      • ‘If we don't say goodbye to her, there will be hell to pay.’
      • ‘It's obvious from the beginning that his secret will come out and there will be hell to pay when it does.’
      • ‘But he had better keep his promise or there will be hell to pay.’
      • ‘No, we're going to have to trust him, for now - with the caveat that there will be hell to pay if they lie to us.’
      • ‘And if it turns out ultimately that he had nothing to do with anything, no doubt there will be hell to pay.’
      • ‘These two reasons have one - and only one - undeniable, inevitable consequence: there are natural limits to these excesses, and when these limits are reached, there will be hell to pay!’
      • ‘One day, you will be caught while coming in, and then there will be hell to pay.’
      • ‘But don't you dare try to leave us, or there will be hell to pay.’
      • ‘But if they move us again, there will be hell to pay.’
      • ‘My mom will be wondering where I am by now, she might have actually noticed I'm not there, and there will be hell to pay if I miss dinner!’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘And if you start fighting over the blankets there will be hell to pay.’
      • ‘I'm sure there will be hell to pay at some point this week.’
      • ‘If the headmaster finds out 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.’
      • ‘And this house better be spotless when we get back, or there will be hell to pay!’
      • ‘If you want to change things now, just because you've run into a few difficulties or to renegotiate the deal, then there will be hell to pay.’
      • ‘But when they cross the wrong guy, there will be hell to pay.’
      • ‘In time he'll probably succeed in taking most of the party with him, but there will be hell to pay.’
      • ‘‘You'd better calm down,’ William said harshly, ‘Because if she wakes up, there will be hell to pay.’’
  • to hell

    • Used for emphasis:

      ‘damn it to hell’
      • ‘I coughed and quickly adjusted my voice, hoping to hell he hadn't noticed the crack.’
      • ‘She hoped to hell it wasn't to make Jess want to see him, because it wasn't going to work.’
      • ‘I have never seen him like that before, and I hope to hell that I never have to again.’
      • ‘Here in Aussie we just get on with partying 24 hours a day and to hell with the consequences.’
      • ‘She just had to keep talking to him, and hope to hell that the ambulance would get here soon.’
      • ‘She hoped to hell that Thomas would ask her if she would help him.’
  • to hell with

    • informal Expressing one's scorn or lack of concern for (someone or something).

      • ‘But when they started attacking the Chinese, I thought, to hell with them.’
      • ‘Seek out like-minded people and to hell with what unfriendly breeders might think.’
      • ‘It is more like a total lack of inhibition, and to hell with any consequences.’
      • ‘Now that is a case of saying, ‘if you want what I am offering then vote for me or to hell with you.’’
      • ‘Okay, this may be a slightly biased vantage point, but to hell with that.’
      • ‘We should have stuck to our guns, people tell me, and to hell with Liverpool and to hell with the Tory leadership.’
      • ‘It was about a relationship that wasn't acceptable but the punchline of the film was that they really did love each other, and to hell with everyone else.’
      • ‘These characters have a tendency to pass moral judgments based on their beliefs, and to hell with what anyone else thinks.’
      • ‘So, long-time readers may remember something of this story, but to hell with you, I'm writing it anyway.’
      • ‘It's really too dark for my pale skin, but sometimes you wake up in the morning and think: to hell with that.’
      • ‘At that point the cops either got their orders or decided to hell with it; they were streaming past us on all sides.’
      • ‘We say to hell with waiting; jump into the fray now and be part of the process of developing technologies relevant to our own cause.’
      • ‘Now we have plastic bin liners, which makes the bin-man's job much healthier and cleaner - but to hell with the housewife!’
      • ‘To hell with quality, to hell with life, to hell with savoring the moment.’
      • ‘I find knitting and quilting very meditative and say to hell with anyone who says derogatory things about it/me.’
      • ‘Okay, my next two selections are on the basis that you have the money, so you want some thing that you like, and to hell with what the board thinks.’
      • ‘Oh, to hell with it, I'm entitled to complain if I want to.’
      • ‘Finally, I said to hell with that, and I pulled my car across the road completely blocking traffic.’
      • ‘I'd like to just tell him to do whatever he wants to and to hell with how I feel, but I can't really believe that he would actually need me to give him a sign.’
      • ‘The individual as the supreme representation of Australian society and to hell with our traditional egalitarianism.’
  • until (or till) hell freezes over

    • Forever:

      ‘they will have to wait until hell freezes over’
      • ‘Helen Clark will be standing ready until hell freezes over to enter into negotiations with the United States.’
      • ‘‘I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over,’ Stevenson says.’
      • ‘If someone is doing a good job, they can keep electing him/her until hell freezes over.’
      • ‘They will be at the old game of points-scoring till hell freezes over.’
      • ‘Do tell him that he has already been civil and supportive, but now is the time to be silent, or he will be her pen pal - if not more - until hell freezes over.’
      • ‘He says he'll be honored to welcome the President but won't change his mind until hell freezes over.’
      • ‘One man proclaimed, ‘We'll fight them, sir, till hell freezes over, and then, sir, we will fight them on the ice.’’
      • ‘At this time any informed Canberra observer knows that we will be waiting until hell freezes over.’
      • ‘That's the way it has been since 1948 and that is the way it is destined to stay till hell freezes over.’
      • ‘It fascinates me that I could water the grass till hell freezes over and nothing and one shower of rain and the place turns green.’
      • ‘Clarke responded, ‘Well, they'll say that until hell freezes over.’’
      • ‘Before I write more, because I could write on these subjects until hell freezes over, I'll turn it over to you.’
      forever, permanently, for always, for good and all, perpetually, eternally, for ever and ever, for all time, for all future time, to the end of time, until the end of time, world without end, endlessly, timelessly, for eternity, in perpetuity, everlastingly, enduringly, never to return
      View synonyms
  • what the hell

    • 1It doesn't matter:

      ‘you're already going to be home late, so what the hell’
      • ‘At this rate, the house will already be warm by the time it happens, but what the hell.’
      • ‘My life is really too shallow and boring for a blog but what the hell, nobody actually had to read it.’
      • ‘You're already going to be home late, so what the hell, take it easy, give your weary eyes and brain a break.’
      • ‘I get the feeling I may encounter some resistance to this choice, but what the hell.’
      • ‘I can't think of much to celebrate on that front but what the hell, it's a damn decent bottle of red.’
      • ‘As I shut the door, I looked at the still full bowl of sweets and thought, what the hell.’
      • ‘I had no desire to ever do something like that, but I said what the hell and took it.’
      • ‘I am the typical poor friend and relative who leaches off others, but what the hell, I go.’
      • ‘It's more than we can really afford, but what the hell, we don't do this every day.’
      • ‘I had to get out of bed to cook it but what the hell, Mrs Sticker was appreciative.’
      • ‘That doesn't sound very wise and mature to me, but what the hell, you got to do what you got to do.’
      • ‘He ran the race illegally, changed the rules to suit himself, but he came first so what the hell.’
      • ‘I had to go past it again the other day, so I thought, what the hell, give it a try.’
      • ‘What the hell - if the stuff doesn't work, it'll make my flat look cool.’
      • ‘He was a little baffled as to why anyone would want to, but I say what the hell.’
      • ‘It was a stupid decision, but what the hell, it was made, and should have been implemented.’
      • ‘So I don't get much chance to eat, never mind see my family, but what the hell?’
      • ‘At first I didn't want to, didn't really see the point but then I thought what the hell.’
      • ‘I'm sure more blogs will comment on this before long, but what the hell, I'm still going to.’
    • 2Used to express anger, contempt, or disbelief:

      ‘What the hell, Jane? You're hanging me out to dry?’

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.

Pronunciation:

hell

/hɛl/