speak of the devil

The person just mentioned has appeared, as in Why, speak of the devil—there's Jeannie. This expression is a shortening of the older Speak of the devil and he's sure to appear, based on the superstition that pronouncing the devil's name will cause his arrival on the scene. The figurative use was already explained in James Kelly's Scottish Proverbs (1721).


Nearby words

  1. spd,
  2. spda,
  3. speak,
  4. speak down to,
  5. speak for,
  6. speak one's mind,
  7. speak one's piece,
  8. speak out,
  9. speak out of turn,
  10. speak softly and carry a big stick

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.