Is Hell A Bad Word? Answered!

By Charalampos •  Updated: 03/24/23 •  6 min read

As a Christian, the thought of Hell surely conjures up negative images. Talk of ‘going to Hell’ can fill us with dread and fear. But what does Scripture have to say about it?

Is this notion that we typically think of when we hear ‘Hell’ really how God sees things, or is our perception all wrong?

In this blog post, we will look at what the Bible has to say on the topic, un pack some ideas around whether not ‘hell’ is in fact such a bad word after all.

The Meaning of The Word Hell

Hell word meaning

The word “Hell” comes from the Old English word “hel,” which means “the underworld.” This word was used to describe a place where the souls of the dead went after they died.

In Christianity, Hell is often described as a place of eternal punishment for those who have committed sins during their lifetime.

The Bible has many references to Hell, and the descriptions of Hell in the Bible are often terrifying. In the New Testament, Jesus often speaks about Hell as a place of eternal punishment for the wicked.

In Matthew 25:41, Jesus says, «Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.» This passage shows that Hell is a place of eternal punishment for those who have turned away from God.

Saint Augustine described Hell as a place, where the souls of the damned would suffer for all eternity.

Saint John Chrysostom also wrote about Hell. He described Hell as a place of darkness and torment, where the souls of the damned would be separated from God forever.

Is Hell A Bad Word?

visualization of Hell

It’s easy to see why some people might consider the word “Hell” to be a bad word if we pay attention to the scary descriptions of hell in the Bible. However, the word “Hell” itself is not inherently bad or sinful. It is simply a word that is used to describe a place or a concept.

In fact, the word “Hell” is often used in a non-religious context. For example, people might say that they are “going through Hell” when they are experiencing a difficult time in their lives. In this context, the word “Hell” is not being used as a curse or a swear word, but simply as a way to describe a difficult situation.

However, using the word “Hell” as a curse or a swear word can be problematic. When people use the word “Hell” as a curse or a swear word, they are using it in a way that trivializes the concept of Hell and the suffering that is associated with it. 

When Used in The Wrong Context

Using the word “Hell” as a swear word can be offensive to people who take their religion seriously. Especially when this word is used unnecessarily, or when people replace some more rude swear word with the word hell. In this case, the word hell can be perceived as frankly swearing language and the use of such expressions is considered a sin.

So, is Hell a bad word? The answer to that question depends on how the word is used and the context in which it’s used.

If the word is used in a non-religious context to describe a difficult situation, then it isn’t necessarily a bad word. However, if the word is used instead of a swear word then it’s inappropriate and disrespectful.

Also, this word can often be used in the literal sense, priests can say this word when explaining something, and this is also not something bad. We shouldn’t pretend that hell doesn’t exist and beware of using that word.

Intentions Behind What We Say

Word we use and Religion

The Bible teaches us to be mindful of the words we use and the impact they have on others.

In Ephesians 4:29, it says, «Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.» This passage asks us to use our words to show people grace, rather than to tear them down or offend them. Therefore, we must be careful with our words, the use of such words must be reasonable.

The Church Fathers showed the importance of using language in a way that is respectful and edifying.

For example, Saint John Chrysostom wrote, «Let our speech be without malice, without anger, without envy, without any unseemly word». In this passage, he encourages us to use our words in a way that is free from negative emotions.

If someone uses the word hell to convey anger, exclamation or indignation, then this is clearly something bad and can be considered a sin.

In the Orthodox tradition, there is also a strong emphasis on the power of language. The prayers and hymns of the Orthodox Church are carefully crafted to reflect the beauty and majesty of God, and to inspire reverence in those who hear them.

Orthodox priests and theologians teach that our words have the power to shape our thoughts and our attitudes, and that we should strive to use language in a way that reflects the holiness of God.

Therefore, if a person often uses the word hell, devil, and so on, then we should think about the state of his soul. Most likely, this person’s mind is fixated on something negative, because he doesn’t see how much beauty exists in faith.

Final Thoughts

It can be concluded that the word hell can be used in a direct sense when describing something theological, then this is not a bad word.

Also, this word can be used to convey emotion when a person goes through something terrible in his life. Such a comparison may also be acceptable.

However, when swearing is replaced with this word, or when this word is used with indignation, then this can be equated with swearing language, and in this case, the word hell becomes bad.

We also shouldn’t forget that the Bible and the Church Fathers teach us to watch our speech, because it has a tremendous impact on the soul of a person.

We shouldn’t use words that don’t make sense or often use words that mean something negative. This brings the soul into a bad state and doesn’t give the soul peace. In this case, a person should get better acquainted with all the good that exists in faith and in the Church, and then he will change his life habits.


Charalampos is an Orthodox Christian who wants to help others learn about Christianity. His main goal is to help people understand the Bible and how to apply its teachings in their everyday lives. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and hiking.

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