hell to pay

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hell to pay (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) Very unpleasant consequences; a great deal of trouble.
    • 1912, Mary Roberts Rinehart, "The Miracle" in Love Stories:
      "When I'm hungry, there's hell to pay if I'm not fed quick."
    • 1921, Zane Grey, chapter 3, in To The Last Man:
      "I told him I had sent for you an' when you got heah these slippery, mysterious thieves, whoever they were, would shore have hell to pay."
    • 2009 Nov. 16, Amy Sullivan, "Can Dems Resolve Their Abortion Split?," Time (retrieved 28 August 2013):
      Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan . . . vows that "there will be hell to pay" if his language gets stripped out of, or weakened in, the final legislation.