When it comes to “bad words,” often referred to as cuss words or curse words, it mostly comes down to personal interpretation. Some people may consider “what the hell” to be a bad word, but others may not have any issue with it at all. The words that are considered “bad” by society tend to change every few decades or so.
“What the hell” is just another way to say “what the heck” or “what on earth.” It’s an exclamation of confusion or dismay. In order for it to be considered a “bad word,” one would first have to consider the word “hell” by itself a bad word. Some people may actually do that, but there is little in the way of moral grounds to do so.
Why Would “What the Hell” Be Considered a Bad Word?
While religion is not the only reason people try to argue that certain words are inherently bad or sinful, it is one of the major determining factors in societal perception of “cuss words.” Many people who grew up being told that certain words were inherently bad to say grew up in religious households, where certain behaviors were considered improper or immoral.
However, even from a biblical point of view (in the case of Christianity), there is no basis for believing that certain words are inherently evil. The Bible does have many verses stating that believers should not curse other people. This is referring to many things, such as slander, wishing ill on others, saying hateful things, and the like.
What many people fail to miss is that the “cursing” the Bible condemns has nothing to do with any specific language. Rather, it is about how any language is used. If you were watching a TV show and a scene caught you off-guard, saying “what the hell” would not be cursing, as it is not being directed at anyone.
But if you were to say to someone, “I sincerely wish you get hurt,” that would be cursing someone, from a Biblical perspective. That would be considered sinful, even though no “coarse” or “inappropriate” language was used.
Who Decides What a “Bad Word” Is?
Ultimately, society does, for whatever reason, it feels like. Think about it: every “curse” word that exists today either wasn’t a word in the past or was not considered a curse word in the past. Words that would have been considered “curse” words in the past are not considered so today. Society’s interpretation of what is or isn’t a bad word changes frequently.
However, there are no laws against any particular word. Legally speaking, there is nothing wrong with saying “what the hell.” Outside of legal considerations, the only thing that determines whether or not a word is immoral to say is personal or religious beliefs.
So, in conclusion, “what the hell” is not a bad word, objectively speaking. It can only be considered bad if you see it in that light, but saying this phrase is not objectively immoral nor illegal by any measure.