... hell, fuck, etc. We use these expressions all the time, yet I don't know how they actually work grammatically. I mean, if you analyze it, what exactly is the grammatical function of "the hell" or "the fuck"? I do realize that people just say it without thinking about what function it's supposed to have and maybe it doesn't really have any anymore, but I wonder what it originally was. Did it, perhaps, start as an absolute interjection, like "What—the hell!—is that?" and eventually come to be felt as more of an integral part of the sentence even though it didn't really fit in in any grammatical function? Or maybe an "in" got dropped for some reason, though retained in "what in the world" and even sometimes "what in the heck/hell", I think, but this looks a bit less likely to me. Does anyone know?