Halloween 2: devil

Idioms with devil

Idiom Explanation Example
be a devil encourage someone to do something they are unsure of Be a devil and eat that last piece of cake!
between the devil and the deep blue sea forced to choose between two equally bad options Walk home in the rain or wait an hour to be picked up, I’m stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.
devil’s advocate argue a point you don’t agree with to keep a discussion going Teachers often play devil’s advocate in the classroom to keep students talking.
speak/talk of the devil said to someone who you’ve been speaking about when they suddenly appear Speak of the devil, we were just talking about you.
who/what/where the devil…? used in questions to emphasize annoyance or anger Who the devil are you?
better the devil you know (than the devil you don’t) proverb: it is better to stay in a familar but unpleasant situation than to put yourself in an unfamiliar situation which may be worse Adam didn’t like his job anymore but he decided not apply for a new one. His mother had always told him ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t'.
the devil is in the details the details of something are the most difficult thing about it

Look. I’ve almost finished sewing this jacket and it’s only taken half an hour!

—I’ve finished the main outline.
—Yes, but the devil is in the details, it’s going to take you twice as long to finish those last few things!

the devils’s own … emphasises the difficulty of something It was the devil’s own job to put the children to bed at 8 o’clock.
the devil to pay serious trouble We’ll have the devil to pay if we don’t get home before midnight!
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Exercises C1

Choose the correct idiom.

  1. Don’t be late to your grandfather’s birthday party. If you are,
  2. Poor Michael has to choose between his best friend and his girlfriend. I don’t know what I would do in that situation. He is really
  3. —I really should be saving money, but I’ve been looking for a yellow dress for months. Should I buy it or not?
    You can save next month!
  4. —I don’t understand why Sara is still with her boyfriend, she never has anything nice to say about him.
    —Well that’s just the way some people are.
  5. Miranda Maloney! We’ve been looking for you for hours.
  6. Mohammed didn’t really believe in war but for the sake of discussion he decided to
  7. What do you think of the new receptionist? There she is!
  8. The company is going to fire 10 people next month. It’s going to be a hard job to do and I’m glad I’m not a manager. Firing people
  9. Don’t forget to proofread your texts before you hand them in. It’s very important that there are no mistakes and you should know by now that

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