HELL-BENT FOR LEATHER
The expression fuses “hell-bent” with another expression, “hell-for-leather.”
Meaning: To be “bent on something” is to be determined to do a specific thing. One of the meanings is “to go in a certain direction.” Literally, then, to be “hell-bent” would mean “going in the direction of hell.” The way we use it though, to be “hell-bent on something” means to achieve something at all costs or with reckless intent".
The expression hell-for-leather means at “breakneck speed, very fast” and usually used with reference to riding on horseback.
The fused expression hell-bent for leather is apparently an American coinage that fuses hell-bent with hell-for-leather and means “recklessly fast.”
The term "hell-bent," which dates from the early 1700s, The earliest quotations in the dictionary were references to American Indians "Hell bent on Thoughts of Massacree" (1731).
The Story of the Gadsby, By Rudyard Kipling, (1891): "Here, Gaddy, take the note to Bingle and ride hell-for-leather.".
The first citation of "hell-bent for leather" is from a 1926 article in the Lincoln (Nebraska) Star: "Bold, reckless dare devils driving hell bent for leather."
Farm Sayings Friday is weekly feature of Yield Starts Here. You might think your grandparents made it up, but that old saying likely goes back many years. In this feature we will figure out who said it first and what it really means!