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hell (n.)

also Hell, Old English hel, helle, "nether world, abode of the dead, infernal regions, place of torment for the wicked after death," from Proto-Germanic *haljō "the underworld" (source also of Old Frisian helle, Old Saxon hellia, Dutch hel, Old Norse hel, German Hölle, Gothic halja "hell"). Literally "concealed place" (compare Old Norse hellir "cave, cavern"), from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save."

The English word may be in part from Old Norse mythological Hel (from Proto-Germanic *halija "one who covers up or hides something"), in Norse mythology the name of Loki's daughter who rules over the evil dead in Niflheim, the lowest of all worlds (nifl "mist"). A pagan concept and word fitted to a Christian idiom. In Middle English, also of the Limbus Patrum, place where the Patriarchs, Prophets, etc. awaited the Atonement. Used in the KJV for Old Testament Hebrew Sheol and New Testament Greek Hades, Gehenna. Used figuratively for "state of misery, any bad experience" at least since late 14c. As an expression of disgust, etc., first recorded 1670s.

To have hell break loose is from c. 1600. Expression hell in a handbasket is attested by 1867, in a context implying use from a few years before, and the notion of going to Heaven in a handbasket is from 1853, implying "easy passage" to the destination. Hell or high water (1874) apparently is a variation of between the devil and the deep blue sea. To wish someone would go to hell is in Shakespeare ("Merchant of Venice"). Snowball's chance in hell "no chance" is from 1931; till hell freezes over "never" is from 1832.

To do something  for the hell of it "just for fun" is from 1921. To ride hell for leather is from 1889, originally with reference to riding on horseback. Hell on wheels is from 1843 as the name of a steamboat; its general popularity dates from 1869 in reference to the temporary workers' vice-ridden towns along the U.S. transcontinental railroad. Scottish had hell-wain (1580s) "a phantom wagon seen in the sky at night."

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dust (n.)

"fine, dry particles of earth or other matter so light that they can be raised and carried by the wind," Old English dust, from Proto-Germanic *dunstaz (source also of Old High German tunst "storm, breath," German Dunst "mist, vapor," Danish dyst "milldust," Dutch duist), from PIE *dheu- (1) "dust, smoke, vapor" (source also of Sanskrit dhu- "shake," Latin fumus "smoke").

Meaning "elementary substance of the human body, that to which living matter decays" was in Old English, hence, figuratively, "mortal life." Sense of "a collection of powdered matter in the air" is from 1570s. Dust-cover "protective covering to keep dust off" is by 1852; dust-jacket "detachable paper cover of a book" is from 1927.

To kick up the (or a) dust "cause an uproar" is from 1753, but the figurative use of dust in reference to "confusion, disturbance" is from 1560s, and compare Middle English make powder fly "cause a disturbance or uproar" (mid-15c.). For bite the dust see bite (v.).

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dust (v.)

c. 1200, "to rise in the air as dust;" later "to sprinkle with dust" (1590s) and "to rid of dust" (1560s); from dust (n.). Related: Dusted; dusting. Sense of "to kill" is U.S. slang first recorded 1938 (compare bite the dust under dust (n.)).

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hell-hole (n.)
also hellhole, late 14c., "the pit of Hell," from hell + hole (n.). Meaning "very unpleasant place" is from 1866.
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dust-up (n.)

also dustup, "fight, quarrel, disturbance," 1897, from dust + up; perhaps from dust "confusion, disturbance" (1590s), also compare kick up a dust "cause an uproar" (1753). To dust (someone's) coat was ironical for "to beat (someone) soundly" (1680s).

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dust bowl (n.)
also dustbowl, "drought-plagued region of the U.S. Midwest," 1936, from dust (n.) + bowl (n.1).
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hell-bent (adj.)
also hellbent, "recklessly determined," 1824, U.S., originally slang, from hell + bent (adj.).
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hell-hound (n.)
also hellhound, "wicked person, agent of Hell" (c. 1400), from Old English hellehund "Cerberus;" see hell + hound (n.). Similar formation in Dutch helhond, German Höllenhund.
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hell-raiser (n.)
1906 (to raise hell "create a ruckus" is from 1847, American English), from hell + agent noun from raise (v.). Related: Hell-raising. Probably not from the U.S. political cry "Kansas should raise less corn and more hell" (1900).
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hell-fired (adj.)
a euphemism for damned attested from 1756. See hellfire.
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