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Devil take the hindmost

Posted by ESC on June 02, 2004

In Reply to: Devil take the hindmost posted by Smokey Stover 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

THE DEVIL TAKE THE HINDMOST - "To hell with the unfortunate. The proverb is found in print as early as 1620 in 'Philaster' by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. First attested in the United States in 'Colonial Record of Georgia . It is part of the proverb 'Every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).