The heck I did?

JungKim

Senior Member
Korean
The hell: used to say in an angry and forceful way that you will not do something, do not agree, etc. ▪ “You said you'd pay for it.” “The hell I did!” [=I never said that] ▪ “It's your fault!” “The hell it is!”

It's from: http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/The hell


I understand this specific usage of "the hell".
I also know you can generally replace hell with heck.

Now my question is if you can say "The heck I did!" or "The heck it is!" instead in the above examples.
 
  • Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The "heck" version is doable, and, more polite (as Kate noted). However (just my opinion), if you use such a watered-down term for such a dramatic moment, you'd most likely sound like a frustrated Ned Flanders (Simpson's reference). It's definitely a "Midwest thing".

    This is just my opinion, and of course, some will disagree. But if you were upset with me and said, "THE HECK I DID!!" I'd most likely laugh back at you and not give any sincerity to your frustration.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I agree, Filsmith. I'd use "The heck I did!" only if I was trying to be slightly funny. I doubt if I'd use it if I was genuinely angry. If I was truly angry but for some reason didn't want to use "The hell I did!" (such as if I was angry at one of my great-aunts or another person I wouldn't want to curse in front of :)), I'd use another phrase, such as "I never said that!"
     
    Last edited:

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    In this context, you can replace "hell" with "heck" to make the exclamation lighter, and you can replace "hell" with "fuck" to make it stronger.

    What you should know is that "hell" is already a very, very light curse-word in English. So reducing it to "heck" does create a funny effect - the curse is too light to validate cursing at all.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I agree with everyone else: I'd only ever subsitute hell with heck if I was 'swearing' in front of a Jane Austen heroine.
     
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