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

Verb Phrases

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

Nearby words

  1. helium,
  2. helium flash,
  3. helium i,
  4. helium ii,
  5. helix,
  6. hell gate,
  7. hell has no fury like a woman scorned,
  8. hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,
  9. hell of a,
  10. hell on wheels


Origin of hell

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


Related formshell-like, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for hell on wheels



Christianity (sometimes capital)
  1. the place or state of eternal punishment of the wicked after death, with Satan as its ruler
  2. forces of evil regarded as residing there
(sometimes capital) (in various religions and cultures) the abode of the spirits of the deadSee also Hel, Hades, Sheol
pain, extreme difficulty, etc
informal a cause of such difficulty or sufferingwar is hell
US and Canadian high spirits or mischievousnessthere's hell in that boy
a box used by a tailor for discarded material
rare a gambling house, booth, etc
as hell (intensifier)tired as hell
for the hell of it informal for the fun of it
from hell informal denoting a person or thing that is particularly bad or alarmingneighbour from hell; hangover from hell
give someone hell informal
  1. to give someone a severe reprimand or punishment
  2. to be a source of annoyance or torment to someone
hell of a or helluva informal (intensifier)a hell of a good performance
hell for leather at great speed
hell or high water or come hell or high water informal whatever difficulties may arise
hell to pay informal serious consequences, as of a foolish action
like hell informal
  1. (adverb)(intensifier)he works like hell
  2. an expression of strong disagreement with a previous statement, request, order, etc
play hell with or play merry hell with informal to throw into confusion and disorder; disrupt
raise hell
  1. to create a noisy disturbance, as in fun
  2. to react strongly and unfavourably
the hell informal
  1. (intensifier) used in such phrases as what the hell, who the hell, etc
  2. an expression of strong disagreement or disfavour
the hell I will


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

Word Origin for hell

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

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

Word Origin and History for hell on wheels


Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for hell on wheels


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.

Idioms and Phrases with hell on wheels

hell on wheels

Tough, aggressive, wild, or mean, as in Watch out for the boss—he's hell on wheels this week. This expression originated with the building of the Union Pacific Railroad in the 1860s, when it denoted the last town on the line, which was carried on freight cars as the track was extended. The town consisted mainly of tents occupied by construction gangs, liquor dealers, gamblers, and other camp followers known for their rough and often vicious ways.


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.