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Hell in a handbasket

Posted by Jim Myers on February 09, 2005

Firt time here so I used this phrase as a test.

According to John Ciardi (as best I can remember), this phrase was used by British(?) miners. A handbasket or handcart was the vehicle that ran on a trolly down into the mines. It carried coal to the surface, but also carried the miners, not an enviable job, down into the mine, a notoriously dangerous place that was sometimes refered to as "hell". Hence, ...

This seemed like a pretty simple derivation, so I was surprised to see so many wrong answers. I'll try another.

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