- (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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
Origin of hell
Synonyms for hell
Antonyms for hell
- the place or state of eternal punishment of the wicked after death, with Satan as its ruler
- forces of evil regarded as residing there
- to give someone a severe reprimand or punishment
- to be a source of annoyance or torment to someone
- (adverb)(intensifier)he works like hell
- an expression of strong disagreement with a previous statement, request, order, etc
- to create a noisy disturbance, as in fun
- to react strongly and unfavourably
- (intensifier) used in such phrases as what the hell, who the hell, etc
- an expression of strong disagreement or disfavour
Word Origin for hell
Old English hel, helle, "nether world, abode of the dead, infernal regions," from Proto-Germanic *haljo "the underworld" (cf. Old Frisian helle, Dutch hel, Old Norse hel, German Hölle, Gothic halja "hell") "the underworld," literally "concealed place" (cf. Old Norse hellir "cave, cavern"), from PIE *kel- "to cover, conceal, save" (see cell).
The English word may be in part from Old Norse Hel (from Proto-Germanic *halija "one who covers up or hides something"), in Norse mythology the name of Loki's daughter, who rules over the evil dead in Niflheim, the lowest of all worlds (nifl "mist"). Transfer of a pagan concept and word to a Christian idiom. In Middle English, also of the Limbus Patrum, place where the Patriarchs, Prophets, etc. awaited the Atonement. Used in the KJV for Old Testament Hebrew Sheol and New Testament Greek Hades, Gehenna. Used figuratively for "state of misery, any bad experience" since at least late 14c. As an expression of disgust, etc., first recorded 1670s.
Expression Hell in a handbasket is attested by 1867, in a context implying use from a few years before, and the notion of going to Heaven in a handbasket is from 1853, with a sense of "easy passage" to the destination. Hell or high water (1874) apparently is a variation of between the devil and the deep blue sea. To wish someone would go to hell is in Shakespeare ("Merchant of Venice"). Snowball's chance in hell "no chance" is from 1931; till hell freezes over "never" is from 1832. To ride hell for leather is from 1889, originally with reference to riding on horseback. Hell on wheels is said to be from 1843 in DAS; popularity dates from 1869 in reference to the temporary workers' towns along the U.S. transcontinental railroad and their vices.
Recklessly, extremely, as in We ran like hell to catch the train. [Mid-1800s]
Not at all, on the contrary, as in You think I'll call her stupid? Like hell I will! or Like hell I can't say that to Bob. [Late 1800s]
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
- (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