since 1997, the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English
Get Word of the Day FREE

what/where/who/why/how the hell...?

INFORMAL
This page is about the conversational phrase what/where/who/why/how the hell...?

Meaning

You can add "the hell" to a question if you're angry or upset.

For example

  • "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

  • "Why the hell did you go the casino? We needed that money!"

Note:

1. WARNING! Using "hell" in this way is very informal, and some people might find it offensive.
2. Also "what/where/who/why/how the heck..." (American English - not offensive)

Quick Quiz

If someone says "Where the hell have you been?", you must have

a. been to hell and back

b. been somewhere terrible

c. been late getting back

Contributor: Matt Errey