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! The last time the team got eliminated from the playoffs at home, all hell broke loose, so I don't really want to go to the game with you.
See also: all, break, hell, loose
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

all hell breaks loose


all hell breaks out

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

all hell broke (or was let) loose

suddenly there was chaos or uproar. informal
See also: all, broke, hell, loose
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

all hell breaks loose

Chaos prevails. The expression crops up often in Elizabethan poetry (Robert Greene, Ben Jonson, William Shakespeare) and continued to be used by an amazing number of fine poets (Milton, Dryden, Swift, and Browning, among others).
See also: all, break, hell, loose
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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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.
But as soon as a white man utters it, then all hell breaks loose.
This time Martin's now in charge of the son of a leading US official, so all hell breaks loose after a kidnapping.
A familiar story line with a twist is the best way to describe Camika Spencer's latest novel, Cubicles, the follow-up to her originally self-published debut, When All Hell Breaks Loose. In her latest offering, Spencer tells the enterprising story of three women, Margaret, Faulkner and Joyce, who initially seem to have nothing in common, but are drawn together in a cryptic sort of way.
"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. Kristen Wiig heads up the cast in the comedy.
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 kind-hearted hirsute hero must find a way to return her to back to Earth, but his bosses seem determined to wreck his friendship with the cute toddler.
Soon, all hell breaks loose for the unfortunate family and a terrified Courtney is forced to call Grant for help.
His sister Jen has forced him to attend Amanda's engagement celebration, but all hell breaks loose when the ring goes missing and then, the following day, one of the guests is found murdered.
"He looks over, Mad Dog lands a sucker punch, Marvin's girlfriend Jade heckles Claire - and all hell breaks loose with Cilla leading the charge." In desperation Cilla is held back by her fella Les and pal Yana.
``One of the wonderful things about the books is that every time Jack goes on land, 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.
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.