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Devil take the hindmost

Posted by Smokey Stover on June 02, 2004

In Reply to: An idiom's meaning posted by R. Kesavan on June 02, 2004

: Will any one please explain the meaning and origin, if possible, as I could not find it so far.


The phrase does not have an "its." It is rendered most often as "[Let][the] Devil take the hindmost," in which "Let the" or just "The" can precede "Devil," but don't have to. A typical use might be in: "It's every man for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost." Hindmost means, of course, the last in line. If you're in a line being chased by the Devil, then the one he's going to catch is going to be the last in line. It's a way of saying, "Don't be slow, because no one is going to stay behind and save you!" The expression dates from at least 1611 (OED Online). SS