TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET Meaning and Definition

The phrase "to hell in a handbasket" is an idiomatic expression that is used to convey a rapid or irreversible decline or deterioration of a situation, usually with negative consequences. It suggests that things are rapidly heading towards disaster or chaos, often due to poor decision-making or a lack of control.

The origin of this phrase is uncertain, but "to hell" refers to descending into the depths of hell, a place of punishment and suffering in many religious beliefs. The addition of "in a handbasket" serves to emphasize the ease and speed in which the decline is occurring, implying that the situation is spiraling out of control or being propelled towards ruin effortlessly.

The phrase is usually used in a figurative sense, but it paints a vivid picture of the severity and swiftness of the decline. It often implies a sense of doom or helplessness, suggesting that the situation is beyond salvation or redemption. This expression is commonly employed when discussing political, social, or moral issues that are perceived to be deteriorating rapidly.

Overall, "to hell in a handbasket" is a metaphorical expression that vividly conveys a rapid and irreversible decline or deterioration of a situation, typically reflecting negative consequences and a sense of despair.

Frequency of the word to hell in a handbasket appearance in books over time

The depicted graph illustrates the occurrences of the term "to hell in a handbasket" in a collection of English books from 1800 to 2008.