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definition of the word hell

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Old English hel, helle (nether world, abode of the dead) < Proto-Germanic *khaljo (nether world, concealed place) < Proto-Indo-European *kel- (to cover, conceal, save). Cognate with the "Hel" of Germanic mythology.




  1. In various religions, the place where some or all spirits are believed to go after death.
  2. (Christianity, uncountable) The place where devils live and where sinners are punished after death.
    May you rot in hell!
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost
      Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.
    • 1916, James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
      Hell is a strait and dark and foul-smelling prison, an abode of demons and lost souls, filled with fire and smoke.

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