phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

"The Devil" sayings or phrases

Posted by John White on May 17, 2009 at 14:43

I am interested in the origins of the following phrases or sayings, in addition to "The Devil (always) looks after his own" which has already been asked about and answered under my "Various phrases". Thanks in advance:

"The Devil made him/them/me do it"
(A classic cop-out for criminal or tortious liability, although possibly grounds for an insanity plea!)

"Speak of the Devil (and he appears)!"
(Said when someone is mentioned in chat at an informal gathering, and then coincidentally appears on the scene).

"(To) have the Devil to pay" (When speaking of dire consequences for unwise actions).

"(To work) like the Devil" (Meaning (to work) very hard, or energetically or maniacally).

"What the Devil!" (An expression of surprise).

"Who the Devil are you?" (Said when confronted by an unpleasant or unwelcome person).

"Lucky Devil" (Said of a person with apparently supernaturally good luck).

"Poor Devil" (Said of a person with very bad luck).

"(To be) between the Devil and the deep blue sea" (Meaning to be in a dilemma, with two hard choices).

"Devil take the hindmost" (Said of selfish competition).

"(To) go to the Devil" (To be damned, condemned, or ruined).

"Devil-may-care" (Meaning reckless, careless, carefree).

"(To be) a Devil's advocate" (Meaning (to be) a supporter or defender of unpopular causes, or one who tests a proposition by arguing against it).