all hell breaks loose


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all hell breaks loose

slang Said of a chaotic or disruptive situation, especially one that begins suddenly or unexpectedly. I'm just walking down the street when all hell breaks loose, and drivers start beeping and screaming at each other for no apparent reason. One guy pushed another at the bar and then all hell broke loose—that's why we left!
See also: all, break, hell, loose

all hell broke loose

all sorts of wild or terrible things happened. When the boss left early for the weekend, all hell broke loose.
See also: all, broke, hell, loose

all hell breaks loose

or

all hell breaks out

INFORMAL
COMMON If all hell breaks loose or all hell breaks out, a situation becomes uncontrolled and noisy, often with a lot of arguing or fighting. Suddenly, all hell broke loose upstairs. It sounded as if someone was battering at the door with a tree trunk. Toby came home and all hell broke loose. I had no idea that a baby could scream so much. Note: This expression first appeared in John Milton's `Paradise Lost' (1667), book 4, line 917, when the Archangel Gabriel addresses Satan: `Wherefore with thee Came not all hell broke loose?' (ie why did all hell not break loose and come with you?). Here, `broke' means `broken', but the meaning of this expression has since changed.
See also: all, break, hell, loose

all hell broke (or was let) loose

suddenly there was chaos or uproar. informal
See also: all, broke, hell, loose

all ˈhell breaks/is let loose

(informal) there is suddenly an angry, noisy reaction to something; suddenly everything becomes confused, noisy, etc: When soldiers fired shots into the crowd, all hell broke loose.All hell broke loose when they heard that their pay had been cut.
See also: all, break, hell, let, loose
References in periodicals archive ?
At first glance, When All Hell Breaks Loose seems ridiculous, but by the time you are done reading, it quickly becomes evident that this is a book that could actually save your life.
They don't mind a 40-year-old man wearing a blonde wig and a dress but as soon as a ciggie appears all hell breaks loose.
There are certain times in earth history when all hell breaks loose, and these are separated by more quiescent times," says marine geologist James Kennett.
However, when one of the bridesmaids gets involved, the pair clash and all hell breaks loose.
I'll leave it in my freezer at home - until my wife finds it and all hell breaks loose,'' he said.
ALL hell breaks loose this week when the Slaters declare war on the Truemans when they hear about Anthony (Nicholas Bailey) and Zoe's (Michelle Ryan) engagement.
When all hell breaks loose in the wake of the Governor's (Richard Doyle) assassination, Grusha finds herself in charge of the Governor's infant son, Michael, after the child's mother, the Governor's wife (Nina Hellman), elects to save her wardrobe instead.
During his time on Earth, Nicky falls in love with a stunning beauty, Valerie (Patricia Arquette), and all hell breaks loose.
She hears him confess to his plan to separate her and his son Dennis and all hell breaks loose.
Suddenly all Hell breaks loose and you find out that those two little ones may not be your grandchildren after all.
The next thing you know, all hell breaks loose,'' said Shasta County Firefighter Kevin McKinley, among the 1,000 firefighters from all over the Western states.
The end of the week sees all hell breaks loose at the poor woman's funeral.
All hell breaks loose in Albert Square when Den finds son Dennis in bed with the adopted daughter he calls Princess.
The moment he removes the duct tape from her mouth, Frank's orderly life disappears and all hell breaks loose.