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I was watching Harry Potter movie. Harry tells a truth to everyone.

Hearing this, another character says that Harry (main character) is lying (i.e., not telling the truth). One more character says immediately after that: "The hell he is!".

Now I don't understand the meaning of "The hell he is!".

It either means he is telling truth or he isn't. But not sure which one of is it.

I turned on Hindi dubbed audio (Hindi is my native language) which clearly said like: "He is NOT lying".

Then to further confirm, I turned on Hindi subtitles. Again, it was contradictory to dubbed audio. It read like: He is lying.

So now I'm confused. Any idea what can it mean?

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1 Answer 1

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The audio is right and the subtitles are wrong. Further, the expression works with or without a final verb.

"The hell he is." = "He's not." (with reference to whatever was just said)

"The hell he's lying." = "He's not lying."

It's an expression that simply adds emphasis. It makes no literal sense in any way I can conceive of.

A related slightly off-color expression:

"My ass." = "That's not true." (again, the reference is to whatever was just said)

"My ass you can bench 200 pounds." = "No way you can bench 200 pounds."

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  • And here are a couple of dictionary definitions to corroborate this (2nd meaning in each case): idioms.thefreedictionary.com/the+hell merriam-webster.com/dictionary/the%20hell
    – Ergwun
    Oct 15, 2021 at 0:30
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    I think the literal sense is that only in hell would that happen. Just as hell is a negative place that we reject, the predicate is being denied.
    – nanoman
    Oct 15, 2021 at 5:18
  • Archetypal example: John Wayne - 'The hell I won't'
    – mcalex
    Oct 15, 2021 at 8:29
  • The accepted answer gets a correct interpretation for the case in question but is a bit questionable. Basically in English there are a number of swear words, which when used in front of "are / is / can" will negate the meaning. While it adds emphasis, it doesn't "simply" do that as it also negates. "The hell" + "he is" = "His is not" (but with more emphasis and clearly somewhat slang/crude language).
    – Robert
    Oct 15, 2021 at 13:53
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    @Robert That also has difficulties. "The hell you will." meaning you're not going to vs "No shit you will." meaning you're definitely going to... Oct 15, 2021 at 15:06

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