hell

noun
\ˈhel \

Definition of hell 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a(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 often used in curses go to hell or as a generalized term of abuse the hell with it

b Christian Science : error sense 2b, sin

2a : a place or state of misery, torment, or wickedness war is hell— W. T. Sherman

b : a place or state of turmoil or destruction all hell broke loose

c : a severe scolding also : flak, grief gave me hell for coming in late

d : unrestrained fun or sportiveness the kids were full of hell often used in the phrase for the hell of it especially to suggest action on impulse or without a serious motive decided to go for the hell of it

e : an extremely unpleasant and often inescapable situation rush-hour hell

3 archaic : a tailor's receptacle

4 used as an interjection hell, I don't know! or as an intensive hurts like hellfunny as hell often used in the phrase hell of a it was one hell of a good fight or hell out of scared the hell out of him or with the or in moved way the hell up northwhat in hell is wrong, now?

from hell

: being the worst or most dreadful of its kind a vacation from hell

hell on

: very hard on or destructive to the constant traveling is hell on your digestive system

hell or high water

: difficulties of whatever kind or size will stand by her convictions come hell or high water

hell to pay

: dire consequences if he's late there'll be hell to pay

what the hell

used interjectionally to express a lack of concern about consequences or risks it might cost him half his estate … but what the hell— N. W. Aldrich born 1935

Hell

biographical name
\ˈhel \

Definition of Hell (Entry 2 of 2)

Stefan (Walter) 1962–     German (Romanian-born) chemist

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of hell in a Sentence

Noun

Getting the loan approved was pure hell. He went through hell during his divorce. She had to go through hell to get where she is today. Living with the disease can be a hell on earth. The pain has made her life a living hell.
See More

First Known Use of hell

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for hell

Noun

Middle English helle, going back to Old English hell, helle, going back to Germanic *haljō (whence also Old Saxon hellia "abode of the dead," Old High German hella, hellia, Old Norse hel "abode of the dead, the death goddess," Gothic halja, translating Greek Háidēs), perhaps from an o-grade nominal derivative of the Germanic verbal base *hel- "cover, hide" — more at conceal

Note: The connection with *hel- "conceal" is traditional in the etymological literature, though given that the literal meaning of *haljō, the mythological abode of the dead, is unknown, it must be regarded as speculative.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hell

Dictionary Entries near hell

helix angle

helixin

helixometer

hell

Hell

hell's bells

hella

Statistics for hell

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hell

The first known use of hell was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hell

hell

noun

English Language Learners Definition of hell

: the place where the devil lives and where evil people go after they die according to some religions

: a very difficult or unpleasant situation or experience

—used to express anger, annoyance, etc.

hell

noun
\ˈhel \

Kids Definition of hell

1 : a place where evil people are believed in some religions to suffer after death

2 : a place or state of misery or wickedness After the injury, life was hell.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on hell

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hell

Spanish Central: Translation of hell

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hell

Comments on hell

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

WORD OF THE DAY

not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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