To use COMPLETELY PROPER English, I've been told that Hell should be capitalized when referring to a location. For example: Go to Hell!

However, does one capitalize it when it's used as part of a phrase instead of a location? For example: I sure as Hell won't go! or I sure as hell won't go!

Any help in this matter is appreciated. Thank you.

  • There are two hells: the literal and the figurative. So you have a choice. Also: hell is not always capitalized in the Bible. – Bread Jun 19 '18 at 21:30
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    There is no such thing as "completely proper English" here. It's purely a matter of style. Although you can ask what type of capitalization is the most common. – Jason Bassford Jun 19 '18 at 23:30
  • Within religious context, when referring to the "place regarded in various religions as a spiritual realm of evil and suffering," esp. in formal writing, use the initial capital: Hell. In no other case is the capitalization needed, definitely not in Go to hell by any rule. The latter is informal, in fact. – Kris Jun 20 '18 at 8:34
  • 'Hell' is an ambiguous word. The English word 'hell' is used to translate 'hades' (the place of the dead) and also 'gehenna' (the lake of fire). They are very different concepts. The word is never capitalised in any biblical translation I am aware of except Green's Literal 1993 see TR Bibles. – Nigel J Jun 20 '18 at 11:33

When referring to the place you you do Hell capitalize since it is a proper noun. However when used in informal speech as you showed it is not capitalized because while it is referring to the biblical hell it is not considered proper and worthy of capitalization. The hell you gave an example of is used in informal speech most often and capitalization is not required

  • The Hell, you say! – Hot Licks Jun 19 '18 at 22:23
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    Your answer references nothing "authoritative"—in this case, any kind of style guide. So, it's purely a personal opinion. The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.) 8.109: "Terms for divine dwelling places, ideal states, places of divine punishment, and the like are usually lowercased (though they are often capitalized in a purely religious context)." – Jason Bassford Jun 19 '18 at 23:32
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    And yet, when referring to Biblical Hell, you write biblical hell. – choster Jun 20 '18 at 1:04

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