all hell breaks loose

idiom
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of all hell breaks loose

informal
used to describe what happens when violent, destructive, and confused activity suddenly begins
  • I heard people shouting at each other, and suddenly all hell broke loose.

Word by Word Definitions

all play
  1. : the whole amount, quantity, or extent of

  2. : as much as possible

  3. : every member or individual component of

  1. : wholly, quite

  2. : selected as the best (as at a sport) within an area or organization

  3. : only, exclusively

  1. : the whole number, quantity, or amount : totality

  2. used in such phrases as for all I know, for all I care, and for all the good it does to indicate a lack of knowledge, interest, or effectiveness

  3. : everybody, everything

  1. : the whole of one's possessions, resources, or energy

  1. : other : different : atypical

  2. : isomeric form or variety of (a specified chemical compound)

  3. : being one of a group whose members together constitute a structural unit especially of a language

hell play
  1. : a nether world in which the dead continue to exist : hades

  2. : the nether realm of the devil and the demons in which condemned people suffer everlasting punishment

  3. : error, sin

break play breaks
  1. : to separate into parts with suddenness or violence

  2. : fracture

  3. to fracture a bone of (a bodily part)

  1. : an act or action of breaking

  2. : the opening shot in a game of pool or billiards

  3. : a gap or opening caused or appearing as if caused by damage : a condition produced by or as if by breaking : gap

loose play
  1. : not rigidly fastened or securely attached

  2. : having worked partly free from attachments

  3. : having relative freedom of movement

  1. : to let loose (see 1loose) : release

  2. : to free from restraint

  3. : to make loose : untie

  1. : in a loose manner (see 1loose) : loosely


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up all hell breaks loose? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

allowing a liquid or gas to pass through

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!