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The meaning and origin of the expression: The Devil take the hindmost

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The Devil take the hindmost

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A proverbial phrase indicating that those who lag behind will receive no aid.


The line was first recorded in print in Beaumont and Fletcher's tragic/comic play Philaster, or Love Lies a-Bleeding, 1611:

"They run all away, and cry, 'the devil take the hindmost'."

The expression was known colloquially prior to that though. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations lists "Every man for himself and the Devil take the hindmost" as an 'early 16th century' proverb.