What the hell?
Sailors were especially fond of the word, invariably describing a violent or reckless officer as Hellfire Jack, the ship he ran as a "hell ship" and even the galley stove as a "hell hole". On shore, any kind of gambling house was simply known as a "hell" from the 16th century onwards, while a place for dancing was usually a "dancing hell". Bad liquor was "hell-broth", a hackney carriage a "hell-cart", a coachman a "hell-driver" and the old or battered type used by printers "hell-matter".
From the mid-17th century, it was commonly said of an "old maid" that she would "lead apes in hell". For real colour, return to 17th-century London, where we find three taverns situated near Westminster Hall - called Heaven, Hell and Purgatory.