Language: Old English


1 noun
hell1 S1 W3

when you die

also HellRR [uncountable] the place where the souls of bad people are believed to be punished after death, especially in the Christian and Muslim religions


[singular, uncountable] a place or situation in which people suffer very much, either physically or emotionally:
War is hell.
My mother made my life hell.
These past few days have been a living hell.
She must have gone through hell every day, the way we teased her about her weight.
pure/absolute/sheer etc hell
They described the war zone as sheer hell.
He says his time in jail was hell on earth.

unpleasant situation

[singular, uncountable] informal a situation, experience, or place that is very unpleasant:
The traffic was hell this morning.
pure/absolute/sheer etc hell
'How was your exam?' 'Sheer hell!'

what/how/why/where etc the hell?

spoken not polite used to show that you are very surprised or angry:
How the hell are we going to do that?

a/one hell of a something

spoken not polite used to emphasize the idea that something is very big, very good, very bad etc:
I've come one hell of a long way to get here.
Envy like yours is a hell of a good motive for murder.

go to hell!

spoken not polite used when you are very angry with someone:
If John doesn't like it, he can go to hell!

feel/look like hell

spoken not polite to feel or look very ill or tired:
I've been feeling like hell all week.

beat/surprise/scare the hell out of somebody

informal not polite to beat, surprise etc someone very much:
We have only one aim: to beat the hell out of the opposition.

(just) for the hell of it

spoken not polite for no serious reason, or only for fun:
They shot people just for the hell of it.

what the hell!

spoken not polite used to say that you will do something and not worry about any problems it causes:
Elaine poured herself a large glass of whisky - what the hell, it was Christmas.

to hell with somebody/something

spoken not polite used to say that you do not care about someone or something any more:
I want to live for the present, and to hell with the consequences.

run/hurt/fight etc like hell

informal not polite to run, fight etc very quickly or very much:
My new shoes hurt like hell.

like hell/the hell

spoken not polite used to say that you do not agree with what someone has said:
'You keep out of this, Ma.' 'Like hell I will.'

the something/somebody from hell

informal not polite something or someone that is the worst you can imagine:
She was the flatmate from hell.
It was the holiday from hell.

guilty/shy/mad/angry etc as hell

spoken not polite very guilty,shy etc:
If I had your problems, I'd be mad as hell.

sure as hell

spoken not polite used to emphasize that something is true:
I don't scare easily, but I was sure as hell scared.

give somebody hell

informal not polite to treat someone in an unpleasant or angry way:
She didn't like him, and gave him hell at the slightest opportunity.

get the hell out (of somewhere)

informal not polite to leave a place quickly and suddenly:
Let's get the hell out of here!

there'll be hell to pay

spoken not polite used to say that people will be very angry:
If they find us there'll be hell to pay.

go to hell and back

to go through a very difficult situation:
I'd go to hell and back for that boy.

all hell broke loose

informal not polite used to say that people suddenly become very noisy or angry:
Journalists woke him with the news and all hell broke loose.

come hell or high water

informal not polite in spite of any problems or difficulties:
I decided I would get the job done by Friday, come hell or high water.

go to hell in a handbasket

American English informal not polite if a system or organization has gone to hell in a handbasket, it has stopped working well and is now working very badly:
The education system in this country has gone to hell in a handbasket.

hell's bells

spoken old-fashioned also hell's teeth British English used to express great annoyance or surprise

play (merry) hell with something

British English informal to make something stop working or happening as it should:
The cold weather played hell with the weekend sports schedule.

raise hell

informal not polite to protest strongly and angrily about a situation

run/go hell for leather

informal not polite to run as fast as possible

hell on wheels

American English informal not polite someone who does exactly what they want and does not care what happens as a result.

when hell freezes over

informal not polite used to say that something will never happen

catch hell

American English spoken not polite to be blamed or punished:
You'll catch hell when your Mom comes home!

➔ not a hope in hell (of doing something)

at hope2 (3)

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