Definition of hell noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//hel//
    ; NAmE NAmE//hel//
    Types of belief
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  1. 1  [singular] (also Hell) (used without a or the) in some religions, the place believed to be the home of devils and where bad people go after death See related entries: Types of belief
  2. 2  [uncountable, singular] a very unpleasant experience or situation in which people suffer very much The last three months have been hell. He went through hell during the trial. Her parents made her life hell. Being totally alone is my idea of hell on earth.
  3. 3  [uncountable] a swear word that some people use when they are annoyed or surprised or to emphasize something. Its use is offensive to some people. Oh hell, I've burned the pan. What the hell do you think you are doing? Go to hell! I can't really afford it, but, what the hell (= it doesn't matter), I'll get it anyway. He's as guilty as hell. (North American English) ‘Do you understand?’ ‘Hell, no. I don't.’
  4. Word OriginOld English hel, hell, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hel and German Hölle, from an Indo-European root meaning ‘to cover or hide’.Extra examples For someone who doesn’t like heat, Florida would be hell on earth. He was terrified of going to hell when he died. Her boss is making her life hell. I’m never going to escape this hell. It really was the holiday from hell—it rained all the time, we all got colds, and we missed the plane home. It was sheer hell having to sit through hours of boring lectures! Lava poured out of the volcano, glowing like the fires of hell. She’d been going through her own personal hell over the last month. She’s been going through hell with that bad tooth. She’s the girlfriend from hell—I don’t know know why he puts up with her. The last few weeks have been a living hell for the refugees. tormented souls in hellIdioms (informal) suddenly there was a lot of noise, arguing, fighting or confusion There was a loud bang and then all hell broke loose.
    beat/kick (the) hell out of somebody/something, knock hell out of somebody/something
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    (informal) to hit somebody/something very hard He was a dirty player and loved to kick hell out of the opposition.
    bug the hell/crap/shit out of somebody
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    (taboo, slang) to annoy somebody very much The song just bugs the hell out of me. Those two idiots bug the shit out of me.
    (informal) a lot of trouble There'll be hell to pay when he finds out.
    (just) for the hell of it
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    (informal) just for fun; for no real reason They stole the car just for the hell of it.
    (informal) used to describe a very unpleasant person or thing; the worst that you can imagine They are the neighbours from hell.
    get the hell out (of…)
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    (informal) to leave a place very quickly Let's get the hell out of here.
    get it (also catch hell) (both North American English) (British English catch it)
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    (informal) to be punished or spoken to angrily about something
      give somebody hell (informal)
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    1. 1to make life unpleasant for somebody He used to give his mother hell when he was a teenager. My new shoes are giving me hell (= are hurting me).
    2. 2to shout at or speak angrily to somebody Dad will give us hell when he sees that mess.
    go to hell in a handbasket
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    (North American English, informal) = go to the dogs
    (old-fashioned, British English, informal) as quickly as possible to ride hell for leather
    hell hath no fury (like a woman scorned)
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    used to refer to somebody, usually a woman, who has reacted very angrily to something, especially the fact that her husband or lover has been unfaithful
    a/one hell of a…, a/one helluva…
    BrE BrE//ˈheləvə//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈheləvə//
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    (slang) used to give emphasis to what a person is saying The firm was in a hell of a mess when he took over. This holiday is going to cost a hell of a lot of money. It must have been one hell of a party. It’s taken him a hell of a long time to get here. That's one helluva big house you've got.
    (come) hell or high water
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    despite any difficulties I was determined to go, come hell or high water.
    (old-fashioned, British English, informal) used to express anger or surprise Hell’s teeth, I promised I’d be back by two.
    hold out little, etc. hope (of something/that…), not hold out any, much, etc. hope (of something/that…)
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    to offer little, etc. reason for believing that something will happen The doctors did not hold out much hope for her recovery.
    (informal) very fast She was driving like a bat out of hell.
    1. 1(informal) used for emphasis She worked like hell for her exams. My broken finger hurt like hell.
    2. 2(informal) used when you are refusing permission or saying that something is not true ‘I'm coming with you.’ ‘Like hell you are’ (= you certainly are not).
    not have/stand a cat in hell’s chance (of doing something)
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    to have no chance at all
    not have a snowball’s chance in hell
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    (informal) to have no chance at all
    play (merry) hell with something/somebody
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    (British English, informal) to affect something/somebody badly Driving on these rough roads has played hell with my tyres.
    (informal) to protest angrily, especially in a way that causes trouble for somebody
    the road to hell is paved with good intentions
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    (saying) it is not enough to intend to do good things; you must actually do them
    scare, annoy, etc. the hell out of somebody
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    (informal) to scare, annoy, etc. somebody very much
    (informal) used to say that somebody has been through a difficult situation We'd been to hell and back together and we were still good friends.
    to hell with somebody/something
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    (informal) used to express anger or dislike and to say that you no longer care about somebody/something and will take no notice of them ‘To hell with him,’ she thought, ‘I'm leaving.’
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: hell