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Still a pretty lame entry, I see. The claim that "hella" serves as a contraction of "hell of a" persists, even in the face of such glaring examples as:

1a. This is a helluva ball game. 1b. *This is a hella ball game.

2a. *She's helluva stoned, dude. 2b. She's hella stoned, dude.

Aside from superficial appearances, these terms are not closely related. First off, "helluva" always modifies a noun, and "hella" does only under rare circumstances and only for some speakers. Second, "helluva" isn't an intensifier semantically. If it were, then "John is a helluva murderer" would mean something akin to his killing a lot of people. But that's not what it means; it means either "he's skilled at murdering" or something like "for a murderer, he's a pretty good guy." In other words, "helluva" is more akin to "excellent", whereas "hella" is akin to "very" or "totally".

In fact, "hella" has strong parallels with "sorta" and "kinda", which are much more widespread. Drawing this connection would go a long ways toward explaining the use of "hella" to people unfamiliar with the dialectal region.

Jgoard 01:01, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Connel MacKenzie, as an admin, presumably had some valid reasons for bringing the previous version (mostly my work) more in line with Wiktionary format. However, there has to be a much better solution. My linguistically informed distinctions between uses of "hella" have been totally collapsed, with a gloss ("many; very") that not only puts different parts of speech under the same major heading, but ignores several of the examples listed under it.

Deleting so much hard work should be done in the service of distilling its best qualities, not simply stripping it down -- especially when this leads to the entry being so muddled and inaccurate.

--J. Goard--

I'm going to resegregate the article into multiple definitions. Theshibboleth 21:44, 20 November 2005 (UTC)


The etymology section needs a bit of work, and it keeps on being reverted to suggest that hella is only used in Northern California and Seattle. Anyway, googling the usenet archive [1] reveals that hella was first used as a contraction of hell of a then as a contraction of hell of a lot of, and is now used more ambiguously as a general intensifier. Theshibboleth 04:23, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

According to the OED, the first documented use was in 1987. "1987 Toronto Star 11 Apr. M2/4 He released the catch on his reel which began to whir like a movie camera as the horse went hella whoopin' down the trail, trailing 50 feet or more of the best Berkley Trilene Monofilament line." Theshibboleth 21:34, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
Etymology has less to do with where it's used now and more to do with where it came from.


I think that hella comes from the word HELLACIOUS –adjective Slang. 1. remarkable; astonishing: They're raising a hellacious amount of money in taxes. 2. formidably difficult: We had a hellacious time getting here in the blizzard.

Slang Extraordinary; remarkable: a hellacious catch of fish

He ate Hella food could be: He ate a remarkable amount of food, (going with the first definition) LDURR2006

I can very clearly remember when and where I first heard the term: Summer 1978, in Montclair (in the hills above Oakland). I was sitting in the little park they have there, and there was a teenager talking with his friends and using the word in every sentence - very annoyingly so. I recall thinking then how sophomoric it sounded - it sounds the same to me still. I was 27 at the time, and was just preparing to move from Montclair out to Pleasant Hill, in the East Bay - I was never in that park again after that date.

Montclair, at the time, seemed somewhat more closely affiliated, culturally, with Berkeley perhaps, than with Oakland, so for a geographic origin my experience would put it in or near Berkeley or Oakland, on or before 1978. But 1978 in Montclair, without any doubt. Kenwg (talk) 18:35, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

"Lots of"[edit]

Thought I'd add that people also use "hella" to mean "lots of".

For example:

"Then we went to Denny's and ate hella food."

I guess this is still a general intensifier, but it seems to transcend the stated grammar. —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

I reverted the recent changes that reflected this because all of the quotes/references provided don't use it in the context of 'hell of a lot' - they all use it as 'hell of a' (and changing the quotes here doesn't change the source reference - it just makes the quotes here invalid). Rather than changing the existing, referenced entries - perhaps a new entry should be created for the expanded sense. --Versageek 17:43, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

I'd like make the "a lot" definition a little more specific. Hella can also be a replacer of "Many" (There are hella people in here, could also be: there are many people in here). Both a lot/lots of, and many are intensifiers of nouns. I would the definition to reflect this, instead of just calling it a replacer. This makes "hella" an intensifier of verbs and nouns, which means that it can act as an adverb and an adjectives. -- nvisibility Aug. 26, 2007

RFV discussion[edit]

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Not one single durably archived citation. --Connel MacKenzie 05:52, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

  • Some here [2] [3] [4]. No energy to add them atm. Kappa 08:42, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

This term clearly meets the criteria, as it is i widespread use as a sland term in Northern California, and people running across it might be curious as to what it means.—This comment was unsigned.

'hella' is also a 2002 draft entry in the online version of the OED. They have 6 citations from Canada and the US, from 1987-2001. They list the provenance as simply "North American", though from my own experience the term seems primarily used in northern California (at least more than in Southern California.) 05:34, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

I've heard this term up in the frozen north (Minnesota). It's a hella good word. I bet I can find hella cites for that shit. I'll take a look. Atelaes 06:36, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Well, it looks as though Kappa's already put up a bunch of durably archived cites, so I won't add any more, but the entry is kind of a mess, so I've created a cites subpage, moved the good ones there, deleted a few of the extraneous ones, and removed the tag. Atelaes 06:58, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Bravo. Another garbage entry. Seems to be a hefty vandal target, and quite a mess, too. Not even semi-protected, yet. --Connel MacKenzie 05:27, 15 March 2007 (UTC)


I have never heard hella used as an interjection, except by people from Southern California, who are using the word incorrectly. (correction, people in socal are not gay enough to use hella in their modern speech) I've heard "Hell yea!", but not "Hella". I think it should be removed from the wiktionary page. Does anyone else use the word in this form?! --nvisibility Aug. 26, 2007

Let me clarify. I live in Southern California. It is widely used here, and therefore it is a valid word. Wiktionary includes dialecticals, therefore this word is in fact an interjection. Neskaya talk 23:08, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Great. You guys get all the tv and movie time, and now the SoCal fags our taking our freakin words,

I went to college in nor cal from so cal, and no one uses it down here. The word is stupid. Please never ever use it unless you purposfully are trying to sound stupid.

Dutch "hele"?[edit]

Is there any chance this is related to the Dutch word "hele[5]" meaning something like all, whole, or throughout? I started to think this when I read one Dutch person write "Ik wens je een hele goede avond", which I think means something to the effect of "I wish you an entirely good evening."

It's probably not, hele is related to whole, and when used as an adverb generally serves to amplify the adjective it's attached to. Note that hele is a regular inflection of heel and not a contraction. InaVegt 23:48, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

The true meaning is very simple to deduce and apply[edit]

"Hella" is a contraction of the phrase "a hell of a lot [of]".

For example: You may say that a girl is "hella cute". This means that she is a "hell of a lot of" cute. This is easily applied similarly while saying that something is "hella old", "hella played out" or "this etymological clarification is hella correct".

But "a lot of cute", "a lot of correct" aren't grammatical. Equinox 01:11, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Maybe not to your english dialect, which may be hella different.