To go to hell in a handbasket means to go to one’s doom, to deteriorate quickly, to proceed on a course to disaster. The phrase go to hell in a handbasket is an American phrase which came into general use during the American Civil War, though its popularity has spread into other countries. The origin of the term go to hell in a handbasket is unknown, the assumption is that the word handbasket is a good source of alliteration. There are other similar phrases such as go to hell in a handcart and go to hell in a handbag, both of which also provide good alliteration. However, go to hell in a handbasket is by far the most popular of the three phrases. Related phrases are going to hell in a handbasket, gone to hell in a handbasket and went to hell in a handbasket.
“My grandma used to say ‘The world’s gone to hell in a handbasket,’ and I never really even know what that meant, except that’s what it feels like.” (USA Today)
Sometimes I worry the world is going to hell in a handbasket and we will leave them with nothing but trouble when our generation passes the baton. (The Examiner)
But for those who do remember, government spending went from 19.6 per cent of GDP to 22.5 per cent and the economy went to hell in a handbasket with rising unemployment and rampant inflation. (The Australian)
“Here you have this beautiful woodland right in our front yard,” he says, “and it’s going to hell in a handbasket.” (The Daily Herald)
Launched at Lawson Field Theatre this week, Starflight 3000 has her crazy cast of characters musing on how the planet is all going to hell in a handbasket, and they are going to need to find somewhere else to live. (The Gisborne Herald)