[ hel ]
See synonyms for hell on Thesaurus.com
  1. the place or state of punishment of the wicked after death; the abode of evil and condemned spirits; Gehenna or Tartarus.

  2. any place or state of torment or misery: They made their father's life a hell on earth.

  1. something that causes torment or misery: Having that cut stitched without anesthesia was hell.

  2. the powers of evil.

  3. the abode of the dead; Sheol or Hades.

  4. extreme disorder or confusion; chaos: The children let both dogs into the house, and all hell broke loose.

  5. Informal. something remarkable of its kind (usually used in the phrase a hell of a or one hell of a): That was one hell of a great game.

  6. a receptacle into which a tailor throws scraps.

  7. Also called hellbox. Printing. a box into which a printer throws discarded type.

  8. the utterance of “hell” in swearing or for emphasis.

  9. the hell, Informal.

    • (used as an intensifier to express surprise, anger, impatience, etc., often in the form of a question beginning with a WH-word): Why the hell can't the trains run on time?How the hell am I supposed to finish this by tomorrow?

    • (used sarcastically or ironically to express the opposite of what is being stated): Are you listening to me? The hell you are!

  1. (used to express surprise, irritation, disgust, etc.)

Verb Phrases
  1. hell around, Slang. to live or act in a wild or dissolute manner: All they cared about was drinking and helling around.

Idioms about hell

  1. be hell on, Slang.

    • to be unpleasant to or painful for: These shoes are hell on my poor feet.

    • to be harmful to: These country roads are hell on tires.

  2. for the hell of it, Informal.

    • to see what will happen; for adventure, fun, excitement, etc.: For the hell of it, let's just get on the next bus and see where it takes us.

    • with no particular purpose; for no special reason: I called him up for the hell of it, and he offered me a job.

  1. get / catch hell, Slang. to suffer a scolding; receive a harsh reprimand: We'll get hell from our parents if we stay out late again.

  2. give someone hell, Informal. to reprimand or reproach severely.

  3. go to hell in a handbasket, Informal. handbasket (def. 2).

  4. hell on wheels, Slang. extremely demanding, fast-paced, aggressive, effective, or the like: The new job is hell on wheels. Our sales staff is hell on wheels when it comes to getting the most out of every account.

  5. like hell, Informal.

    • with great speed, effort, intensity, etc.: We ran like hell to get home before the storm. She tried like hell to get him to change his mind.

    • (used sarcastically or ironically to express the opposite of what is being stated): He says the motor will never break down? Like hell it won't!

  6. play hell with, Slang. to deal recklessly with; bring injury or harm to: Snowstorms played hell with the flow of city traffic.

  7. raise hell, Slang.

    • to indulge in wild celebration.

    • to create an uproar; object violently to: She'll raise hell when she sees what your rabbit has done to her garden.

  8. the / to hell with, Informal. (used to express dismissal, rejection, contempt, disappointment, or the like): If we have to walk five miles to see the view, the hell with it! He wouldn't even speak to me, so to hell with him!

  9. what the hell, Informal. (used to express lack of concern or worry, indifference, abandonment, surrender, etc.): As long as you're borrowing $100, what the hell, borrow $200.

Origin of hell

First recorded before 900; Middle English, Old English hel(l); cognate with Old High German hell(i)a (German Hölle ), Old Norse hel, Gothic halja; akin to Old English helan “to cover, hide,” and to hull2

Other words for hell

Opposites for hell

Other words from hell

  • hell-like, adjective

Words Nearby hell

Other definitions for he'll (2 of 2)

[ heel; unstressed eel, hil, il ]

  1. contraction of he will.

usage note For he'll

Words that may be confused with he'll

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use hell in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for hell (1 of 2)


/ (hɛl) /

  1. Christianity (sometimes capital)

    • the place or state of eternal punishment of the wicked after death, with Satan as its ruler

    • forces of evil regarded as residing there

  2. (sometimes capital) (in various religions and cultures) the abode of the spirits of the dead: See also Hel, Hades, Sheol

  1. pain, extreme difficulty, etc

  2. informal a cause of such difficulty or suffering: war is hell

  3. US and Canadian high spirits or mischievousness: there's hell in that boy

  4. a box used by a tailor for discarded material

  5. rare a gambling house, booth, etc

  6. as hell (intensifier): tired as hell

  7. for the hell of it informal for the fun of it

  8. from hell informal denoting a person or thing that is particularly bad or alarming: neighbour from hell; hangover from hell

  9. give someone hell informal

    • to give someone a severe reprimand or punishment

    • to be a source of annoyance or torment to someone

  10. hell of a or helluva informal (intensifier): a hell of a good performance

  11. hell for leather at great speed

  12. hell or high water or come hell or high water informal whatever difficulties may arise

  13. hell to pay informal serious consequences, as of a foolish action

  14. like hell informal

    • (adverb) (intensifier): he works like hell

    • an expression of strong disagreement with a previous statement, request, order, etc

  15. play hell with or play merry hell with informal to throw into confusion and disorder; disrupt

  16. raise hell

    • to create a noisy disturbance, as in fun

    • to react strongly and unfavourably

  17. the hell informal : the hell I will

    • (intensifier) used in such phrases as what the hell, who the hell, etc

    • an expression of strong disagreement or disfavour

  1. informal an exclamation of anger, annoyance, surprise, etc (Also in exclamations such as hell's bells, hell's teeth, etc)

Origin of hell

Old English hell; related to helan to cover, Old Norse hel, Gothic halja hell, Old High German hella

British Dictionary definitions for he'll (2 of 2)


/ (hiːl, unstressed iːl, hɪl, ɪl) /

contraction of
  1. he will or he shall

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for hell


The dwelling place of Satan, devils, and wicked souls condemned to eternal punishment after death; a place of pain and torment. (Compare heaven.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with hell


In addition to the idioms beginning with hell

  • hell has no fury like a woman scorned
  • hell of a
  • hell on wheels
  • hell or high water, come
  • hell to pay

also see:

  • (all hell) break loose
  • devil (hell) of a
  • for the hell of it
  • give someone hell
  • go to hell
  • hot as hell
  • like a bat out of hell
  • like hell
  • mad as a hornet (hell)
  • not a hope in hell
  • raise Cain (hell)
  • road to hell is paved with good intentions
  • shot to hell
  • snowball's chance in hell
  • till hell freezes over
  • to hell and gone
  • to hell with
  • what the hell

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.