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 ?
Fair enough, but when Fatima - aka the meddling relative from hell - also reveals she knows the child's foster parents, all hell breaks loose and Masood decides he's going to track down his granddaughter against Shabnam's wishes.
But when they try to do a bit of business, all hell breaks loose.
If you're interested in local films and the horror genre, consider heading to Bijou Art Cinemas today for the one-night-only premiere showing of "All Hell Breaks Loose.
It's a strange atmosphere within the BJP, in which if anyone says anything against Modiji, or in praise of anyone else, then all hell breaks loose.
He puts "race music" on the air and all hell breaks loose.
But Tina barely has time to serve her first pint at the Rovers when all hell breaks loose in the soap's much-anticipated tramcrash bloodbath.
Misplaced bodies, blackmail, indecent exposure and a corpse that won't stay in the box get the party started, but when old family skeletons start tumbling out of the closet, all hell breaks loose.
Survival expert Cody Lundin's new book When All Hell Breaks Loose aims to solve that problem by providing common-sense tips that everyone should know in order to mitigate the impact of a disaster.
Giant furball Sulley is good at his job but when cute little Boo follows him back to his own dimension, all hell breaks loose.
The threat of all-out war between America, Europe, and the Middle East casts a spectral shadow; Commander Samuel (Jim) Bowie and the crew of the USS Towers, plus a handful of navy destroyers, must work fast to end the crisis before all hell breaks loose.
When a crew from Earth, headed by Leslie Nielsen, shows up, all hell breaks loose -- especially after Altaira learns how to kiss.
When Cameron goes along with his boyfriend's plan to bring fake dates to prom, gay hell breaks loose.
Some fella at Silverstone has one too many lagers and decides to take a closer look at the action and all hell breaks loose.
It had a lot to do with the lyrics and the cover and everything ties together--that one moment of Zen clarity before all fucking hell breaks loose.
When ever any one of them senses power all hell breaks loose and today the evidence is all around us.