IOTW: “Speak of the devil”

Hello, fellas!! What’s up? Have you ever talked about someone and then the said person suddenly appears? Even if he’s less likely to be there or even if you don’t expect him to come, he suddenly does.

In Indonesia, we have expression for such situation. We respond by saying, “Panjang umur dia!” or “May he have a long life!” Today, we are going to talk about an English idiom which is usually used in that circumstance. Can you guess what it is?

Yes, it’s “Speak of the devil (and he doth appear or he shall appear)”.

Believed to have come from the Middle Ages (5th to 15th century). “Speak of the devil” is a superstition against speaking directly of the devil or of evil in general, which was considered to incite him to appear and bring bad consequences. The first recorded version in contemporary English is found in Piazza Universale (1666), a book by Italian writer Giovanni Torriano. It says, “The English say, Talk of the Devil, and he’s presently at your elbow.”

The phrase slowly lost its original meaning, and by the 19th century, it even began to appear as a warning for eavesdropping (menguping). By the late 19th century, the expression “speak of the devil” drifted further from its sinister meaning, as it started to be used in jest. In the present time, it’s normally used as a reference to someone who appears unexpectedly while being talked about.

Okay, that’s a wrap for today’s session! If you have any questions related to English language, don’t hesitate to mention us! We will discuss different topic in our timeline, so remember to check it every day! You can also visit our site

And now, it’s time for me to say goodbye. Good night, fellas, and see you!

Compiled and sritten by @alicesaraswati for @EnglishTips4U on Monday, 26 October, 2015.



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