Take the following examples:

For the hell of it! 
How the hell...
What the hell...
Where the hell...
Who the hell...
The hell you are!

Is there any linguistic term with respect to "the hell".

"on earth" and "the heavens" fall into the same category. Any others?


1 Answer 1


Pesetsky (1987, section 5.3.1 http://people.ucsc.edu/~ardeal/courses/synb-w12/pesetsky1987.pdf) addresses wh-phrases with "the hell" (and its ilk), and there's some bloggish discussion of it here: http://lingcomm.blogspot.com/2011/11/non-question-uses-of-hell.html

Per the discussion there, you might call such phrases "D-unlinkers" (but that would probably date you, and tie you to a particular framework/view of syntax, which may not be what you're looking for).

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