to hell in a handbasket



This term dates back to at least 1941, but its origins, albeit scarce in documentation, date back even further to 1913 with the term to heaven in a handbasket or to heaven in a wheelbarrow. Even more abstract references date back to 1714 with a text reading, "Govr said he would give his head in a Handbasket as soon as he would pass it."

Other research suggests that the phrase relates to the practice in the early 20th century toward secularizing holidays. The hand basket was a reference to the Easter basket. As the focus of Easter shifted to baskets and eggs from the resurrection of Jesus, the more devout Christians began to demonize it. If one's focus was on the non-religious aspects, they would say "You are going to hell in your handbasket."


to hell in a handbasket ‎(not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) To a bad state of affairs quickly.
    I watched as the guy in charge did nothing and the whole place went to hell in a handbasket.

Derived termsEdit