run/go hell for leather informal not polite to run as fast as possible


Any people know why 'leather' stands here?

run(we know it's action moving our legs fast back and forth), hell(it's like 'fuck' a kind of seasoning slang), for(as 'toward' or as 'for the sake of'), and leather (why the noun leather is here)

  • Hell is not an expletive here, it's just part of the expression. May 24, 2021 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


It seems that "leather" in the expression hell-for-leather originally referred to a horse's saddle and tack, as the expression was first used when talking about riding a horse as fast as possible. It first occurs in print in Rudyard Kipling's "The Valley of the Shadow" from 1889:

CAPT. M. (Jealously) Then don’t say it! Leave him alone. It’s not bad enough to croak over. Here, Gaddy, take the chit to Bingle and ride hell-for-leather. It’ll do you good. I can’t go. JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. (Flicking M.’s charger.) That’ll do, thanks. Turn in, Gadsby, and I’ll bring Bingle back–ahem–‘hell-for-leather.’


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