hell-bent for leather

Moving recklessly fast, as in Out the door she went, hell-bent for leather. The use of hell-bent in the sense of “recklessly determined” dates from the first half of the 1800s. Leather alludes to a horse's saddle and to riding on horseback; this colloquial expression may be an American version of the earlier British army jargon hell for leather, first recorded in 1889.


Nearby words

  1. hell's angel,
  2. hell's angels,
  3. hell's bells,
  4. hell's kitchen,
  5. hell-bent,
  6. hell-fired,
  7. hell-for-leather,
  8. hell-raiser,
  9. hella,
  10. hellacious

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