hell, noun

1. In the adverbial phrase hell of, hell of a, also helluva [special use of general English hell of a, helluva used before a noun, e.g. ‘a helluva job’]: used as an intensifier, ‘very’, ‘extremely’; helse adverb. Cf. hang of (a) (see hang noun sense b).
1956 D. Jacobson Dance in Sun 15They were going to start some sort of a home for sick people. A sanatorium, he said, remembering the word. ‘This dorp is hell of a good for T.B. they say.’
1961 D. Bee Children of Yesterday 91‘Anyway Sam started to clout him around a bit. So all of a sudden bang! Bang! And Sammy’s on the floor!’ ‘And then Claasens helps him up and says he’s hell of sorry.’
1967 M.M. Hacksley Informant, GrahamstownShe’s hell-of brave, honestly — keeping going,..with this dreadful fear of the worst always upon her.
1976 S. Roberts Outside Life’s Feast 89I tiptoed to the kitchen and it was hellova quiet.
1982 D. Kramer in Fair Lady 24 Feb. 97Our parents were helluva nice...They never complained about driving us and our amazingly primitive equipment around.
1982 Grocott’s Mail 9 Mar. 5I’ve always come back from a season of Shakespeare or Sheridan helluva enriched and come back to Grahamstown and thought ‘Oh God now I’m gonna die — again’.
1990 J. Rosenthal Wake Up Singing 63I’m helluva sorry to wake you all up.
2. In the (predicative) adjectival phrase the hell in [calqued on Afrikaans die hel in, literally ‘in hell’] furiously angry, enraged; the donder in, see donder noun sense 2; the moer in, see moer noun2 sense 2.
1966 L.G. Berger Where’s Madam 97Sometimes when I get the hell-in with Silence, we have a fearful row which seems to clear the air.
1968 A. Fugard Notebks (1983) 178Boesman is the hell-in...He works out his self-hatred on her.
1969 A. Fugard Boesman & Lena 10Where did I find him..looking at the mud, the hell-in because we had lost all our things.
1971 Informant, GrahamstownShe’s always making a new will — whenever she gets the hell-in with someone she gets another done.
1981 Sunday Times 13 Sept. 23If they install parking meters, everybody is going to be the hell in.
1989 Style Feb. 41God’s the hell in with the Boere nation, who pray like Pharisees but never stop bickering.
used as an intensifier, ‘very’, ‘extremely’; helseadverb.
furiously angry, enraged; the donder in, see dondernoun2; the moer in, see moernoun2.
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