Slang dictionary

dance with the devil

[dans with th uh dev-uh l]

What does dance with the devil mean mean?

To dance with the devil is to engage in risky, reckless, or potentially immoral behavior.

Where does dance with the devil come from?

Examples of dance with the devil

If your mind doesn’t dance with the devil just a bit, you are probably not the woman for me
@dsartiststudio, March, 2018
I worry that it's a dance with the devil...It’s multimillions of dollars, and money changes people. And if we don’t remain vigilant and ask questions, we will go the way of other institutions.
Margaret Brabant quoted by Jenna Johnson, The Washington Post, March, 2013
It happened again after my first post-Whole30 cheeseburger. Chicken parm was problematic, too. My favorite late-night writing snack, Oreos washed down with a glass of whole milk, became a veritable dance with the devil.
Kate Morgan, The Cut, February, 2018
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Who uses dance with the devil?

The concept of dancing with the devil is frequently invoked in politics to describe interacting with perceived enemies or potential dangerous figures. One such political text is Michael Rubin’s 2014 Dancing with the Devil: the Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes. An article from the libertarian Technology Liberation Front, as another example, warned that tech companies working with the federal government was a dance with the devil and that they would “get burnt.”

Rapper Immortal Technique invoked the sense of moral danger in his 2001 song “Dance with the Devil.” The song tells the story of a criminal who will go to any length for success, but then commits suicide in remorse for his actions.

Dance with the devil is also used in colloquial speech and writing for humorous effect, characterizing mildly ill-advised behaviors one engages in but knows better (e.g., I know it’s 3am, but I’m going to dance with the devil and watch one more episode on Netflix.).

Dance with death is a similar phrase used to indicate an activity that tempts fate. For example A Dance with Death served as the title of a book about Soviet Airwomen in World War II.

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Note

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