- 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 [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 [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.’ Word Origin Old English hel, hell, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hel and German Hölle, from an Indo-European root meaning
- 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).
- 2to shout at or speak angrily to somebody Dad will give us hell when he sees that mess.
- 1(informal) used for emphasis She worked like hell for her exams. My broken finger hurt like hell.
- 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).
(informal) to hit somebody/something very hard He was a dirty player and loved to kick hell out of the opposition. (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. (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. (informal) to leave a place very quickly Let's get the hell out of here.
(informal) to be punished or spoken to angrily about something
(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. 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.
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.