Posted by Masakim on February 13, 2002
In Reply to: Speak of the Devil posted by ESC on February 13, 2002
: : : I'm trying to figure out where this term came from. It occurred to me that this is not a very nice thing to say to someone, when your are talking about them. Any ideas
: : I remember reading that this term came from a time when it was considered dangerous to speak the name of the devil because he might hear you and decide to make evil things happen to you. I think the full term is "Speak of the Devil and he shall appear."
: It is mostly said as a joke today. That is, it's a joke if you say it so the person appearing can hear the comment and he laughs.
: SPEAK OF THE DEVIL - "is a very common expression heard when a person who has been under discussion suddenly puts in an appearance. It's an American variation of a British proverb dating back at least to the seventeenth century." R.C. Trench, dean of Westminster, midway through the nineteenth century said, ".Talk of the devil and he is bound to appear contains a very needful warning against curiosity about evil." "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).
: From the archives. Masakim posted:
: Talk of the devil, and he is bound to appear. The
person who has been talked about secretly is likely to show up unexpectedly. The
earliest appearances of the proverb in print were in _Adagia_ by Erasmus
(1466-1536) and in Endimio__ by John Lyly (about 1554-1606). In 1666, it
appeared in G. Torriano's collection of Italian proverbs and in 1721 in James
Kelly's collection of Scottish proverbs. ... _Speak of the devil!_ is a shortened
variant used when someone being discussed shows up unexpectedly. ...
: From the _Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs & Sayings_ by Gregory Y. Titelman
: The English say, Talk of the Devil, and he's presently at your elbow. (G. Torriano, _Italian Proverbs, 1666)
: Speak of the Dee'l, and he'll appear. Spoken when they, of whom we are speaking, come in by Chance. (J. Kelly, _Scottish Proverbs_, 1721)
: "How free he had made with the Devil's name." ... "Talk of the Devil, and he will appear." (R. Graves, _Spiritual Quixote_, 1773)
: Speak o' th' devil and behold his horns! (T. Knight, _Turnpike Gate_, 1799)
: They are the very men we spoke of -- talk of the devil, and -- humph? (W. Scott, _The Fortunes of Nigel_, 1822)
'What's the matter, Hasselbacher?'
'Oh, it's you, Mr. Wormold. I was just joking of you. Talk of the devil,' he said, making a joke of it, but Wormold could have sworn that the devil had scared him.
--Greham Greene, _Our Man in Havana_, 1958.
Additions to the last posting:
Lupus in fabula -- The wolf in the fable. (Erasmus, _Adagia_)
Talk about the wolf, and the wolf is here. (Russian proverb)
Talk of the wolf and his tail appears. (Dutch proverb)
Talk of the wolf and you see his tail. (French proverb)