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The meaning and origin of the expression: While you live, tell truth and shame the Devil!

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While you live, tell truth and shame the Devil!

Meaning

Cobbe family portrait of William ShakespeareTell the truth, even when tempted to lie.

Origin

The preacher Hugh Latimer recorded this as a 'common saying' as early as 1555, in his Twenty Seven Sermons:

"There is a common saying amongst vs, Say the truthe and shame the diuel."

Shakespeare also used the expression in Henry IV. Part I, 1597:

Hotspur:
And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil
By telling truth: tell truth and shame the devil.
If thou have power to raise him, bring him hither,
And I'll be sworn I have power to shame him hence.
O, while you live, tell truth and shame the devil!

See other phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.