when hell freezes over

when hell freezes over

Meaning | Synonyms

  • impolite way of saying “it will never happen”
  • it will never come about
  • that will not occur at all
  • something that is not likely to be happened ever
  • impossible – it’s not going to happen

Example Sentences

  1. I guess, she will forgive you when hell freezes over.
  2. I am going to give up eating burgers, only when hell freezes over.
  3. Ruth had broke my heart – now I will talk to her when hell freezes over.
  4. Olivia is very arrogant and stubborn she will apologize when hell freezes over.
  5. Do you think that all the members of our family may be reunited? Yes, When hell freezes over!


This expression was first used in the 19th Century, Middle American English. It belongs to a category of hell idioms that can be described as small, all describing hell as a place that would remain hot for all of eternity. Hell is supposed to be the hottest place in the whole universe, so the chances that its temperature would drop to 0 °C or 32 °F is zero to none.

The first recording of this saying appeared in print in 1919. For F. Scott Fitzgerald and P.G Wodehouse, it was their favorite expression as they often ended their letters with “Yours till hell freezes over. Another recorded use was in 1930, in the book The Civil War by Shelby Foote when a confederate soldier at Gettysburg said to his superior:

“We’ll fight them sir, till hell freezes over, and then sir, we will fight them on ice!”

A pictorial depiction of hell freezing over can be found in Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy.” In the book, there is a woodcut of the devil in the lowest rung of hell frozen in ice up to his waist giving an illusion of hell as a sea of fire and ice.

Synonyms and Similar Idioms


W 1 Thought

1 Thought

In Dante’s Inferno, the 9th Circle is frozen. This is the place where the traitors are punished, where Satan was thrust into ice when he was cast out of heaven for trying to overthrow God. Could the idiom have any connection to this?

- Steven Avalos July 16, 2020

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