Posted by ESC on March 18, 2000
In Reply to: Better the Devil You Know posted by ESC on March 17, 2000
: : What the heck does "Better the Devil You Know," mean?
: : I've heard it in a song by a British group and wonder
: : if it's British Phrase and I don't get it because I'm
: : American.
: I've heard it in America. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't. Some people reason it's better to stay in a bad situation rather than risk making a change and winding up in a spot that's even worse. Examples, a person might stay with a bad job or bad marriage because he is afraid to change and wind up in a situation that is just as bad and unfamiliar on top of that.
"BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW THAN THE DEVIL YOU DON'T KNOW -- It is better to deal with something bad you know than with something new you don't; the new thing might be even worse. The proverb is of Irish origin and has been traced back to the 1539 collection of proverbs by R. Taverner. First attested in the United States in 'Dodd Cases' by K. Livingston...Often shortened to 'better the devil you know.' 'The Devil We Knew' is the title of H.W. Brands' book on the United States' role in the Cold War against the 'evil empires.'..." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).