Is the Phrase Hot as Hail or Hell? (Solved & Explained)

English phrasing is often tricky and doesn’t always make sense.

For example, Is the phrase hot as hail or hell?

The correct phrase is “Hot as hell.” As a real or symbolic place, hell is associated with heat, fire, and burning. Hail refers to cold pellets of ice that fall from the sky in winter. When people say, “Hot as hell,” they are comparing the temperature to the insufferable heat of the underworld.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the correct phrase and why all the confusion.

Why Is the Phrase Hot as Hell Correct?

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Fire on a black background—Is the Phrase Hot as Hail or Hell
Image by the author via Canva—Is the Phrase Hot as Hail or Hell

There are several good reasons that the correct phrase is “hot as hell.”

Here are the best reasons:

  • The person saying the phrase is usually commenting on hot weather
  • Hell is historically known as a very hot place
  • The phrase uses figurative comparison and hyperbolic exaggeration

When someone says, “It’s hot as hell!”, most of the time they are calling attention to the extreme physical temperature.

It could be a hot or humid day or a sweltering guy with no air conditioning. Sometimes people use the phrase during work, exercise, driving, studying, running, or visiting a tropical destination.

Hell is symbolically, religiously, historically, and culturally known for being intensely hot.

Therefore, it makes sense that the correct idiom (hot as hell) refers to something hot—in this case, hell.

Why Is the Phrase Hot as Hail Not Correct?

When you think about it, the phrase “hot as hail” doesn’t make that much sense.

Hail is not hot.

Actually, hail is very cold. Frozen, in fact. When it hails, ice pellets rain down from the sky. Ice typically forms when the temperature is extremely cold, not warm.

Therefore, unless someone is using “hail” figuratively for contrast, they wouldn’t say the phrase, “hot as hail.”

Most of the time, people don’t say something is as hot as something cold. That’s like saying, “hot as snow” or “hot as ice.”

It’s much more likely that someone would compare a hot thing to another hot thing.

Why Are People So Confused Over the Correct Phrase?

There are at least three good reasons that people ask, “Is the phrase hot as hail or hot as hell?”

The confusion is probably rooted in:

  • The similar spelling and sound of both words
  • Pronunciation

Both of these reasons might sound obvious (because they are) but I really think they can be confusing. Especially non-native English speakers.

The two words, “hail” and “hell,” look similar in writing.

They are both short words that start with an “h” and end with an “l”.

To top it off, they can sound almost identical when pronounced. Depending on the accent and proper pronunciation, I can see why this might leave listeners scratching their heads.

What Is the Origin of the Phrase “Hot as Hell”?

The origin of the phrase hot as hell comes from religious history mixed with modern-day slang.

Hell is traditionally a Euro-Christian concept from the Bible.

Today, people use hell as an intensifier to make a statement more forceful or colorful.

Think of all the ways people use “hell”:

  • Funny as hell
  • Mad as hell
  • Cool as hell
  • Stupid as hell
  • Crazy as hell

The list of flexible ways to use the word “hell” go on and on.

Here is a video that succinctly defines “hot as hell”:

YouTube video by ADictionary—Is the Phrase Hot as Hail or Hell?

Other Ways to Say Hot as Hell

There is more than one way to say, “Hot as hell.”

Since “hell” is considered an undesirable word in some communities, you might want to know a few alternatives.

Here are a few:

  • Hot as fire
  • Hot as lava
  • Hot as pepper
  • hot as coals
  • Red hot
  • Hot under the collar
  • Hot as the 4th of July
  • Hot as the devil
  • Hot as Hades
  • Hot as the sun
  • Hot as the summer
  • Hot as the oven
  • Hot as a furnace
  • Hotter than a frying pan
  • Hotter than lightning

You can also use other “hot” words:

  • Smoking
  • Sizzling
  • Scorching
  • Blistering
  • Melting
  • Sweltering
  • Scalding
  • Piping hot
  • Steaming
  • Flaming
  • Burning
  • Broiling
  • Baking
  • Searing
  • Roasting

Related Correct Phrase Questions

There are two related questions about temperature, toughness, and eternal punishment.

I figured this might be a good place to put these related questions to rest. So, here are the two questions and their definitive answers.

Is the Phrase Hard as Hell or Hard as Hail?

The correct phrase is, “Hard as hell.”

The phrase “hard as hell” is a popular idiom that is often used to describe something that is very difficult. The origin of the phrase is uncertain, but it is thought to be derived from the Biblical description of Hell as a place of torment and suffering.

In modern usage, you might say that getting up early for work is hard as hell, or that finishing your taxes on time is hard as hell.

The phrase can also be used to describe something that is very unpleasant or painful, such as being stuck in traffic or having a cold.

The phrase “hard as hail” is also used to describe something that is very difficult, but it is less common.

Is It Cold as Hail or Hell?

The phrase “cold as hell” is one of the most commonly used phrases in the English language.

It is often used to describe very cold weather, but it can also be used to describe anything that is very unpleasant or uncomfortable. For example, you might say that your boss is “cold as hell” if he is always yelling at you.

The phrase “cold as hail” makes a lot of sense logically.

After all, hail is made of ice and it can be very cold. However, this phrase is not nearly as common as “cold as hell.” In fact, it’s fairly uncommon.

It might also be helpful to mention that “hell” is often used to intensify language, rather than to make a literal comparison.

For example, you might say that someone is “crazy as hell” or “fine as hell.”

In other words, “hell” is often used for emphasis.

Final Thoughts: Is the Phrase Hot as Hail or Hell?

The bottom line is that if you want to use the correct phrase, say, “Hot as hell.”

It’s clear, accurate, and—if applicable—will make you sound like a native English speaker.

Related posts:


SpringerOpen (Research on Idioms)
ResearchGate (Study on Understanding English Idioms)