What does the idiom "Speak of the devil" mean?
Are you using the idiom Speak of the devil but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the Speak of the devil idiom and the situations in which it is used.
Meaning of "Speak of the devil"
The idiomatic phrase “speak of the devil” is usually used when one is talking about something or someone and that thing or person suddenly appears as if they had been summoned by the talk. It is usually an expression of surprise, disbelief and sometimes even shock.
The exact origin of the phrase “speak of the devil” is unknown. It is believed to be derived from a superstition of the 16th century that when a person was spoken of by name, their presence would be summoned. This superstition was popularized by William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”, released in 1602, in which the phrase “Speak of the devil” is used several times. The phrase is also found in other works from the same era, such as a passage from the Bible, the book of Matthew, which says “If Satan also is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?”.
The phrase “speak of the devil” is mainly used in informal situations as a humorous response when someone appears suddenly after being talked about. It can also be used sarcastically to express disbelief at the timing of a person’s arrival. Additionally, it can be used to express surprise, shock and awe, particularly when one is talking about something that they did not expect to happen.
- “We were just talking about you and here you are! Speak of the devil!”
- “I can’t believe it! I was just saying how I wished I had a new car, and speak of the devil, my dad showed up with one!”
- “I didn’t think I was going to get the job offer, but speak of the devil, here it is!”
Idioms have a common language
"The early bird catches the worm" is an English idiom that means that those who wake up early and start their day early are more likely to succeed. A similar idiom in Spanish is "El que madruga, Dios le ayuda," which translates to "God helps those who rise early." This idiom emphasizes the importance of starting the day early in order to achieve success.