what the hell

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Shortened from earlier what in the hell.

Phrase[edit]

what the hell

  1. (mildly vulgar, slang) An intensive form of what.
    What the hell is going on?
  2. (mildly vulgar, slang) Why not? or Who cares?
    It’s expensive, but what the hell, you only live once.
    Surprisingly, dieters ate more ice cream after eating a large milkshake than after eating a small one. Dr. Polivy calls this the “What the hell” effect, which she describes as thinking “What the hell, my diet’s already broken, so I might as well eat everything in sight.”

Usage notes[edit]

  • Thought to be more vulgar in the US whilst less vulgar in the UK, Canada and Australia.

Synonyms[edit]

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