The Dean of "Words and Meanings" William Safire wrote about the analogy in his 1990 column, which traces the phrase "Hell In A Handbasket" as it was not always defined in the usual sense, as referring to "wreck and ruin.
My research indicates the words "hell" and "handbasket" as words needing a definition not a meaning, the noun "hell" is the worst place, usually connected to the afterworld where kettles of boiling water are bubbling with those who were so despised due to their deeds when they were living.
However, the definition of the word "handbasket" is defined as to the "noun" in the Merriam Webster Dictionary as well as analogous to the phrase "hell in a handbasket" which is an analogy to "wreck and ruin," the use of the words "hell" and "handbasket" appear in a sentence as a noun.
The great William Safire's 1990 column "Words And Meanings" in The New York Times Magazine wherein he delved into an entertaining overview of the "handbasket" analogy, attaches something more than a grammatical to the words "hell" and "handbasket."
Here's one more fact, the words "hell" and "handbasket" are still defined as nouns and with meanings as analogous to their origin, which in itself is a pleasant surprise in this world where words and meanings can be shifted to a partisan purpose for those with a certain POV, I say, let's cheer for the words "hell" and "handbasket," because, these are words that even in this 21st century can be used as originally intended.
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