a hell of a

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hell of a (person or thing)

1. Quite good or impressive. That was one hell of a party you threw for Kelly. Everyone said they had such a great time. He's a hell of a ballplayer. I wouldn't be surprised if he made it to the pros someday.
2. Very difficult. I had a hell of a time trying to change the flat tire. The lug nuts didn't want to budge.
3. Bad or negative. Did she really hang up on me? That's a hell of a response to an innocent question!
See also: hell, of
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

a hell of a someone or something

 and a helluva someone or something 
1. Inf. a very bad person or thing. (Use caution with hell.) That's a hell of a way to treat someone. He's a hell of a driver! Watch out! 2. Inf. a very good person or thing. (Use caution with hell.) He is one hell of a guy. We really like him. We had a helluva good time.
See also: hell, of
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

hell of a

Also, one hell of a
1. See devil of a.
2. This phrase is used as an intensive to emphasize certain qualities about the noun it modifies. By itself the idiom is ambiguous, for its exact meaning depends on the context. For example, He is a hell of a driver can mean either that he is very skillful or that he is a terrible driver. Similarly, We had one hell of a time can mean either that we enjoyed ourselves greatly or that we had an awful or difficult time. [Second half of 1700s]
See also: hell, of
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a (or one) hell of a —

used to emphasize something very bad or great. informal
1990 Stephen King The Stand If someone on the committee has been leaking, we're in a hell of a jam.
See also: hell, of
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

a/one hell of a...

(spoken, slang) somebody/something that is very bad, good, unusual, impressive, etc: We had a hell of a good time at the night club.I had one hell of a hangover the next morning.
This is sometimes written as ‘a/one helluva’.
See also: hell, of, one
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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