Green’s Dictionary of Slang

devil n.

[the role of the white race in Black Muslim iconography]

[1960s+] (US black, esp. Black Muslim) a white person.

SE in slang uses

As a clergyman or preacher

In compounds

devil-catcher (n.)

[late 18C] a parson.

devil-chaser (n.)

[20C+] (US) a volunteer preacher, without proper qualifications but capable of earnestly quoting what he/she has read in the Bible; thus also adj. devil-chasing.

devil-dodger (n.) (also satan-dodger)

1. [late 18C+] a clergyman, a preacher; thus devil-dodging, n. ostentatious piety; adj. noisily pious.

2. [mid-19C] one who sometimes attends an Anglican church and sometimes a Quaker meeting.

devil-driver (n.)

[late 18C–early 19C] a parson.

devil-pitcher (n.)

[late 18C–19C] a clergyman.

devil-scolder (n.)

[mid-19C] a clergyman.

devil-teaser (n.)

[late 19C-1910s] (US) a clergyman.

In the context of gambling

devil’s bedpost (n.) (also devil’s bedposts) [note whist jargon devil’s bedstead, the 13th card of whichever suit has been led]

[mid–late 19C] the four of clubs, considered to be unlucky.

devil’s bones (n.) (also devil’s ribs)

[mid-17C–mid-18C] dice.

devil’s brigade (n.)

the legal profession.

devil’s dozen (n.) [a supposedly unlucky number: the number of witches supposed to attend a sabbath]

[early 17C–19C] the number 13.

devil’s four-poster (n.) [clubs, being black, are characterized as ‘devilish’]

[mid-19C] the four of clubs.

devil’s (picture) books (n.) (also devil’s bible, ...prayer books)

[early 18C+] a pack of playing cards.

devil’s picture-gallery (n.)

[1920s] a pack of playing cards.

devil’s pictures (n.)

[1910s] a pack of playing cards.

devil’s playthings (n.)

[19C] a pack of playing cards.

devil’s teeth (n.)

[mid-19C] dice.

In the context of alcohol

devil’s brew (n.)

[late 19C+] whisky.

devil’s dye (n.) (also devil’s dye stuff)

[mid-19C] (US) whisky.

devil’s piss (n.)

a strong alcoholic drink.

devil’s nobbler (n.) [nobbler n.3 ]

[late 19C] (Aus.) a variety of alcoholic drink.

devil soup (n.)

[1980s] (W.I.) white rum.

devil’s tail (n.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) brandy.

devil’s urine (n.)

[2000s] champagne.

In the context of drugs

devil’s dandruff (n.) (also Satan’s dandruff)

[1980s+] (drugs) crack cocaine; methamphetamine.

devil’s dick (n.) [dick n.1 (5)]

[1980s+] (US black) a pipe for smoking crack cocaine.

devil’s dust (n.)

see separate entry.

General uses

In compounds

devil dogs (n.)

[1910s+] the US Marines.

devil’s bite (n.)

[mid-19C] the contraction of the vaginal muscles around the penis during intercourse.

devil’s box (n.) [the supposed sinfulness of music]

[20C+] (US) a violin.

devil’s claws (n.)

[mid-late 19C] (UK prison) orig. used by customs to mark a seized vessel, then a synon. for the ‘broad arrow’ marking on convict clothes.

devil’s colours (n.) (also devil’s livery) [the use of black to denote mourning and yellow for quarantine]

[mid-19C] black and yellow; also plain black (see cite 1899).

devil’s delight (n.)

[early 19C+] a row, a fuss; thus kick up/play the devil’s delight, to have a rowdy argument or make a disturbance.

devil’s dinner-hour (n.)

[late 19C] midnight; the small hours .

devil’s dung (n.) [i.e. Pers. aza, mastic + Lat. foetida, stinking; the substance is used both in medicine and in cooking]

[17C–mid-19C] asafoetida (Ferula assa-foetida).

devil’s dust (n.)

see separate entry.

devil’s guts (n.) [‘so called by farmers, who do not like their land should be measured by their landlords’ (Grose, 1785)]

[mid-17C–early 19C] a surveyor’s chain; note Shakespear Dict. Hindustani & Eng. (1820) shaitan ki ant, The devil’s guts, any thing very long and winding) .

devil’s half-acre (n.) [1950s+] (US)

1. a rough or unworkable piece of land.

2. the rough area of a town.

devil’s own (n.) [coined by George III as nickname for the Bloomsbury and Inns of Court Volunteers at review in 1803]

generic for lawyers as a profession.

devil’s neckerchief (n.)

[18C] the hangman’s noose; often ext. with ...on the way to Redriffe.

devil’s necklace (n.)

[1900s] (Aus.) a snake.

devil’s regiment (n.) (also devil’s regiment of the line) [coined by Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881)]

[mid-19C] prisoners.

devil’s smiles (n.)

[19C] spring weather, esp. the alternating sun and showers of a ‘typical’ April.

devil’s tattoo (n.) (also Old Gentleman’s tattoo, tattoo) [? pvb ‘The devil finds work for idle hands’]

1. [mid-18C–1930s] the tapping of one’s fingers or feet, often through boredom or irritation.

2. a violent assault.

In phrases

devil among the tailors (n.) [according to F&H (and backed by OED) ‘Originating in a riot at the Haymarket when Dowton announced the performance for his benefit, of a burlesque entitled “The Tailors: a Tragedy for Warm Weather”. Many thousands of journeymen tailors congregated, and interrupted the performances. Thirty-three were brought up at Bow Street next day.’]

[mid-19C] an argument, a row.

devil-on-the-coals (n.) (also beggar-on-the-coals)

[mid-19C–1900s] (Aus.) a small unleavened loaf hastily baked in hot ashes.

marry the devil’s daughter (and live with the old folks) (v.)

see under marry v.

put the devil into hell (v.) (also put the Pope into Rome) [a euph. coined by Boccaccio in a ribald story in the Decameron (1358), in which a hermit seduces a virgin by persuading her of the necessity of letting him ‘put the devil into hell’]

[17C+] to have sexual intercourse.

In exclamations

devil’s cure!

[early 19C+] (Irish) a mild excl.