hell (hĕl)
1. Christianity a) often Hell The place of eternal punishment for the wicked after death, often imagined as being presided over by Satan and his devils. b) A state of separation from God; exclusion from God's presence.
2. The abode of the dead in any of various religious traditions, such as the Hebrew Sheol or the Greek Hades; the underworld.
3. a) A situation or place of evil, misery, discord, or destruction: »

"War is hell"

(William Tecumseh Sherman). b) An extremely difficult experience; torment or anguish: »

went through hell on the job.

4. a) The spirits in hell or the powers of evil: »

All hell could not stop him.

b) Informal One that causes trouble, agony, or annoyance: »

The boss is hell when a job is poorly done.

5. A sharp scolding: »

gave the student hell for cheating.

6. a) A tailor's receptacle for discarded material. b) Printing A hellbox.
7. Informal a) An outstanding or noteworthy example: »

You are one hell of a good cook.

b) Used as an intensive: »

How the hell should I know?

8. Archaic A gambling house.
intr.v. helled, hell·ing, hells Informal To behave riotously; carouse: »

out all night helling around.

interj. Used to express anger, disgust, or impatience.
for the hell of it For no particular reason; on a whim: »

walked home by the old school for the hell of it.

hell on Informal 1) Damaging or destructive to: »

Driving in a hilly town is hell on the brakes.

2) Unpleasant to or painful for.
hell or/and high water Troubles or difficulties of whatever magnitude: »

We're staying, come hell or high water.

hell to pay Great trouble: »

If we're wrong, there'll be hell to pay.

like hell Informal 1) Used as an intensive: »

He ran like hell to catch the bus.

2) Used to express strong contradiction or refusal: »

He says he's going along with us—Like hell he is!

to hell and gone 1) A long distance away: »

drove to hell and gone and still couldn't find a diner.

2) Far and wide: »

friends scattered to hell and gone.

3) Into the next world: »

The bomb blew the truck to hell and gone.

to hell with Used to express contempt for or dismissal of someone or something.
[Middle English helle, from Old English; see kel-1.]
Word History: When the Anglo-Saxons became Christian in early medieval times, the Old English word hel was used to translate the Latin word īnfernus, "the lower region, hell," and designate the fiery place of eternal punishment for the damned. But what did hel designate before the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons? We can discover some indication of the original pagan meaning of hel by examining its Old Norse equivalent, hel. The medieval Scandinavians and Icelanders were converted from paganism much later than the Anglo-Saxons, and they preserved a good deal of pagan poetry revealing the ancient Scandinavian vision of the afterworld. The medieval Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson, a Christian, also paints a vivid picture of hel for us in his accounts of Norse myth (although his description may have been influenced by his own Christian conception of hell). The Old Norse hel is the abode of oathbreakers, other evil persons, and those unlucky enough to have died of old age or sickness rather than in the glory of the battlefield. Unlike the typical Christian conception of Hell, the Old Norse hel is very cold. It contrasts sharply with Valhalla, the hall in Asgard where heroes slain in battle carouse with the gods after death. In Old Norse, Hel is also the name of the goddess or giantess who presides in hel. She is the daughter of the god Loki and sister of the enormous wolf that will attack the gods at the end of the world. One half of Hel's body is blue-black, while the other is white. The Indo-European root behind Old English hel and Old Norse hel, as well as their Germanic relatives like German Hölle, "hell," is *kel-, "to cover, conceal." In origin, hell is thus the "concealed place." The root *kel-, also gives us other words for things that cover, conceal, or contain, such as hall, hole, hollow, helmet, and even Valhalla, from Old Norse Valhöll, literally the "Hall (höll) of the Slain (Valr)."

Word Histories. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

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  • hell — hell …   The Old English to English

  • hell — hell …   English to the Old English

  • hell — like, adj. /hel/, n. 1. the place or state of punishment of the wicked after death; the abode of evil and condemned spirits; Gehenna or Tartarus. 2. any place or state of torment or misery: They made their father s life a hell on earth. 3.… …   Universalium

  • Hell — • Hell (infernus) in theological usage is a place of punishment after death Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. hell     Hell     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Hell — steht für leuchtstark, siehe Helligkeit farbstark, siehe Farbhelligkeit pastellfarben Hell steht für: Orte: Hell (Kalifornien) Hell (Michigan) Hell (Norwegen) Hell (Gelderland) Filme: Hell (2011), deutscher Spielfilm von Tim Fehlbaum Hell –… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • hell — ► NOUN 1) a place regarded in various religions as a spiritual realm of evil and suffering, often depicted as a place of perpetual fire beneath the earth to which the wicked are sent after death. 2) a state or place of great suffering. ►… …   English terms dictionary


  • hell — [hel] n. [ME helle < OE hel (akin to Ger hölle, hell & ON Hel, the underworld goddess, HEL) < base of helan, to cover, hide < IE base * k̑el , to hide, cover up > L celare, to hide] 1. [often H ] Bible the place where the spirits of… …   English World dictionary

  • hell — hell; hell·ben·der; hell·flö·te; hell·gram·mite; hell·ward; in·hell; rake·hell·ish; hell·ish; rake·hell; hell·gra·mite; hell·ish·ly; hell·ish·ness; …   English syllables

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