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HELL-BENT FOR LEATHER means moving as quickly as possible; rapidly and with determination; recklessly fast. 

"They took off after the horse thief, riding hell-bent for leather."

It can also describe someone who is determined to accomplish a task no matter what the cost, and does it in a ferocious manner. 

"Here comes the boss. She's not just angry; she's hell-bent for leather."
"The Democrats were all hell bent for leather about passing the bill."

HELL-BENT (ON/UPON SOMETHING) is an adjective that carries a connotation of recklessness or foolishness. Originated in the US in the early 1800s, it means determined to do something at any cost.

"He was hell-bent on winning, on coming first, no matter what."

'Hell' has long been used as an intensifier and, in this case, it strengthens 'bent', which means 'determined to do a specific thing; strongly inclined; intent' or 'directed on a course', with implications of 'recklessly determined; resolute.' 

"She was bent on proving him wrong." 

HELL FOR LEATHER meaning 'all deliberate haste', originated in British army jargon in India, was first recorded in 1889. Similar early versions reportedly included 'hell falleero' and 'hell faladery'. 

"Joan was driving hell-for-leather to the post office."
"Motorcycles were roaring hell-for-leather down the turnpike."

An example of something done hell-for-leather is a final sprint to win a major marathon. If you say that someone is going hell for leather, you are emphasizing that they are doing something or are moving very quickly and perhaps carelessly. 

"They've been going hell for leather, trying to record as much as they can."

This expression originally referred to riding a horse fast and recklessly; at breakneck speed. 'Leather' probably alludes to a horse's saddle, bridle or a crop used to urge a horse to move faster. To ride very quickly is rough on the bridal, stirrups, and saddle and is literally hell for leather. * 

"They rode hell-for-leather down the trail."
"The sheriff led the posse in a hell-for-leather chase."

It was first used in print by Rudyard Kipling in 'The Story of the Gadsbys' who probably coined the phrase and contributed to its popularity.

"Here, Gaddy, take the chit to Bingle and ride hell-for-leather." [The Valley of the Shadow, 1889]

Given the similar wording and meaning of the two phrases, it's not surprising that some people were hell-bent on blending them one day. The fused expression 'hell-bent for leather' (1926) is an American coinage that fuses 'hell-bent' with 'hell-for-leather'. The fact that 'hell bent' is more widely understood, undoubtedly contributed to the mash-up of the two phrases.

"Out the door she went, hell-bent for leather."

HELL/HELL-BENT FOR ELECTION, evoking the image of a spirited, horn-blowing, flag-flying campaign, is said to have originated with the 1840 Maine gubernatorial race.

"Oh, have you heard how old Maine went? She went hell-bent for Governor Kent."

It was used by Mark Twain in a letter and appears in an 1899 Stephen Crane short story:

"One puncher racin' his cow-pony hell-bent-for-election down Main Street."

 Isn't limited to politics, it is used to describe any obsessive hankering, whether the goal be power, money or love, etc. Other variants include 'hell-bent for breakfast/Sunday/Georgia', etc.

"When her ex-boyfriend walked into the party, Patty went hell-bent for Georgia to get out of there."

* sometimes the idiom uses 'leather' literally to describe one's affection for leather.

"She turned up at the bike show hell bent for leather: leather pants, leather jacket, sunglasses and turtleneck."

Also, since in was used for the Judas Priest 'Killing Machine' US album title, ('78), and the song on this album, placing motorcycles where horses should be, it has also acquired an additional meaning of 'to be totally metal', generally related to leather garb, motorcycles, loud music and being fast.

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