Earlier this week, the Northern California slang term “hella” was officially added to Merriam-Webster's unabridged dictionary. According to the Merriam-Webster site, “The new entries and senses offer a kind of snapshot of how exactly our language expands. It doesn’t happen quickly—we monitored many of these words for years before they’d met our criteria for entry—and it’s pushed by various fields and endeavors.” You can view the definitions for this new word along with its suspected origin below.
1. Definition of hella (adverb):
very, extremely <And though she's excited, she's also hella scared. — Mimi Valdes, Vibe, October 2002> <If you need someone to impress kids with a hella loud motorcycle, great. — Kase Wickman, MTV News, 17 June 2015>
Origin of hella:
probably contracted from 'hell of a' as an adjectival intensifier (though the shift in syntactic category is unexplained)
First Known Use: 1987
2. Definition of hella (adjective):
a lot of <You've got to keep in mind that the rematch is more money. They're making hella money now, but the rematch is more money, or even a draw of a good fight is more money. — Deontay Wilder, quoted in The Dallas Morning News, 3 May 2015>