Green’s Dictionary of Slang

devil n.

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

(US black, esp. Black Muslim) a white person.

[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ Current Sl. III:2.
[US]O. Hawkins Ghetto Sketches 67: I was lettin’ the devils know I was not to be trifled with.
[US]N. Heard House of Slammers 93: I don’t think that it’s in the black man’s interest to act in concert with the devils.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 55: Devil A white person.
[US]W. Shaw Westsiders 236: ‘Get ready for the new world order, revolution / Retaliation, a must / Devils will be crushed by the NOI.’ In the NOI — Nation of Islam — cosmology, the white race are ‘devils’.

SE in slang uses

As a clergyman or preacher

In compounds

devil-chaser (n.)

(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.

[US]C. Panzram Journal of Murder in Gaddis & Long (2002) 29: The next man [...] was a devil-chasing soul-saver, a preacher by the name of Mr. Price.
[US]Jim Jones sermon [transcription] I had a Quaker grandmother that could outpray— she was a— the best devil-chaser I ever saw.
devil-dodger (n.) (also satan-dodger)

1. a clergyman, a preacher; thus an obsessively religious lay person; devil-dodging, n. ostentatious piety; adj. noisily pious.

[UK]J. Lackington letter VI Memoirs 45: These devil-dodgers happened to be so very powerful (that is, very noisy,) that they soon sent John home, crying out, he should be damned!
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 10 Feb. 114: Come and stand a drain, my covey, and don’t get reading the humbug, and listening to the patter of that old devil-dodger there.
[UK]West Kent Guardian 7 Mar. 4/1: The insertion of the letter [...] would subject us [...] to an action for libel by the ‘Devil-dodger’.
[UK]Fast Man 3:1 n.p.: [T]hat heathenish jig (as a certain devil-dodger of my acquaintance has been pleased to denominate the Polka).
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Story of a Lancashire Thief 10: There’s a gospel-shop in Oxford-road, and it’s a fashionable place. I’ll try my hand there while the devil-dodger is at it.
[UK]Siliad 181: For Devils, out and out, thou art not fit, / For Devil-dodgers, just the real grit.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 31 Jan. 3/2: The amphibious devil-dodger and soul-saver commenced by saying that he was a ‘hot member,’ who could be very rough on the profane, and that, however much it might look like one, the ceremony was not a pantomime, but a very solemn and blessed affair indeed.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 14 Sept. 5/2: I’ve seen that devil-dodging / Is a mighty paying game .
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 371: I’ve been having a talk with that consumptive-looking devil-dodger.
[Aus]Coburg Leader (Vic.) 10 Nov. 2/5: They Say [...] The ‘Chinese devil-dodger’ has avowed his love for a winsome young lady.
[UK]‘Pot’ & ‘Swears’ Scarlet City 168: I never knew a devil-dodger yet who drew back his paw when offered a doubloon.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 31 Jan. 8/2: During a recent hop in the church meeting hall the devil-dodger sprang out of his decorum on hearing a rag-time tune.
[UK]E. Pugh Spoilers 91: The stinkin’ ole devil-dodger.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 17 June 4/8: A down-south paper [...] printed a sermon by the local satandodger.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 9 Apr. 8/8: When the devil-dodging wosers / Thinks they’re stamping out the game.
[Aus]Aussie (France) 8 Oct. 14/2: He was the dinkumest looking devil-dodger ever I’ve seen.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Black Gang 385: A brief survey of the devil-dodger’s face might help.
[US](con. 1910s) D. Mackenzie Hell’s Kitchen 137: I [...] garbed myself in a ‘dog collar’ and silk stock. And behold, I looked like a real ‘devil dodger’.
[Aus]H. Drake-Brockman Dampier’s Ghost Act I: Maybe Itam could tell us if his devil-dodger was called to the hospital as well.
[Aus]R. Raven-Hart Canoe in Aus. 64: ‘An’ get an ear-bashin’ from the devil-dodger,’ a friend added.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 58/1: Devil-dodger. A clergyman.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 58: It ’ad enuff snaps of tomfoolery in it to make a devil dodger turn crooked.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 25: Devil Dodgers Clergy.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 Devil dodger. Minister of religion.
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 55/2: devil dodger n. the prison chaplain.
[Aus]Betoota-isms 66: Devil Dodger [...] 1. A extremely devout Christian, driven to faith by fear of the devil 2. A sanctimonious old-school Christian who attends a church service more than once a week.

2. one who sometimes attends an Anglican church and sometimes a Quaker meeting.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
devil-driver (n.)

a parson.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Manchester Courier 24 Feb. 3/4: A humorous revival preacher introduced a converted costermonger in a South london chapel [...] adding to his name the title of D.D., which he interpreted as ‘Devil Driver’.
[UK]Pembs. Herald (Wales) 8 May 4/3: Slang is hard on the parson in various ways. He is known as a ‘devil-driver’ or ‘devil-scolder’.
[Scot]Glasgow Herald 2 May 6/7: Captain Newton [i.e, of the Salvation Army] who was introduced as the Devil Driver declared that God could not only save the drunkard, but save the devil.
devil-scolder (n.)

a clergyman.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Pembs. Herald (Wales) 8 May 4/3: Slang is hard on the parson in various ways. He is known as a ‘devil-driver’ or ‘devil-scolder’.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. (2 edn) 3: Devil-dodger - A clergyman. Also, devil-scolder.
[UK]Sheffield Indep. 6 July 5/1: A clergyman is a devil scolder.
devil-teaser (n.)

(US) a clergyman.

Wkly Chillicothe Crisis (Livingston Co, MO) 24 July 1/8: The Salvation army folks do get strange nicknames [...] ‘Dick the Devil-Teaser’.
[US]G.D. Chase ‘Navy Sl.’ in DN IV: ii 150: devil teaser, n. Chaplain.

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]

the four of clubs, considered to be unlucky.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
J.C.J. in N&Q Ser. 5 XII 473: In London I have always heard the four of clubs called the devil’s bedpost, and also that it is the worst turn-up one could have [F&H].
[UK]Jersey Indep. 14 Jan. 7/4: No one can tell why sailors should have dubbed the four of clubs ‘the devil’s bed-post’.
Dly Bulletin (Hololulu) 21 Mar. 4/3: The sailors knew the four of clubs as the ‘Devil’s Bedposts’.
[US]Princeton Union (MN) 20 Jan. 7/6: Sailoirs call the four of clubs the ’devil’s bedposts’.
[US]Sun (NY) 1 Mar. 31/6: What are the nicknames for the ace and four of clubs? [...] The first is puppyfoot, the second is the devil’s bedposts.
[UK]Bucks Herald 4 Jan. 7/3: The four of clubs is called ‘the Devil’s bed-posts’.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks.
devil’s bones (n.) (also devil’s ribs)


[UK]Etherege Love In A Tub II ii: I do not understand Dice: I understand good Pasture and drink --- Hang the Devil’s bones.
[UK]J. Ray Proverbs (2nd edn) 70: The Devil is i’th’ dice.
[UK]N. Ward ‘A Walk to Islington’ in Writings (1704) 69: The Children of Fortune / [...] / Who bred to no Bus’ness, but train’d up in Evil, / Are cunning in hustling the Bones of the Devil.
[UK]N. Ward Hudibras Redivivus II:5 15: Thus some with merry Cracks were taling, / Others the Devil’s Ribs.
[UK]N. Ward Compleat and Humorous Account of Remarkable Clubs (1756) 113: So cunning Gamesters, Satan’s Sons, / Recover by the Devil’s Bones.
[UK]N. Ward Amorous Bugbears 15: The Groom-Porter’s Deputy stood hussling the Devil’s Bones in a Box.
[Scot](con. early 17C) Sir W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel II 24: Tell the accusing spirit [...] that if thine ears have heard the clatter of the devil’s bones, thy hand hath not trowled them.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
devil’s brigade (n.)

the legal profession.

[Aus]J. Furphy Rigby’s Romance (1921) Ch. xxiii: 🌐 While he was endeavoring to give some account of himself to the Bench various members of the Devil’s Brigade put in clients’ claims, amounting in the aggregate to something like £600.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 20 Sept. 1/1: The prospect of another appeal in the Spencer case is delighting the Devil’s Brigade [...] the case will cost £100,000 [...] and the barristerial gentry will bag the greater part of the boodle.
devil’s dozen (n.) [a supposedly unlucky number: the number of witches supposed to attend a sabbath]

the number 13.

[UK] ‘For A’ That and A’ That’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) II 265: The deevil’s dozen Donald drew, / And Donald gied her a’ that.
[Scot]Blackwood’s Mag. XXX. 343/2: Instead of one kick, he deserves and gets a devil’s dozen .
[UK]J. Mair Hbk of Phrases 14: Devil’s Dozen. Thirteen.
[US]Fort Worth Dly Gaz. (TX) 15 May 2/3: ‘Baker’s dozen’ was originally called the ‘Devil’s dozen’ from the fact that thirteen witches were supposed to sit down at the great meetings of his satanic majesty.
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 23 May 6/6: in Old England 13 was called the ‘devil’s dozen’.
[Scot]Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 18 Mar. 2/6: The Sheriff asked him if he could count the length of thirteen? Mr Agnew said it was the devil’s dozen.
[US]Jasper News (MO) 27 May 5/5: The saying ‘devil’s dozen’ m,eans the same as ‘baker’s dozern’. It connotes [...] 13 loaves of bread instead of twelve.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
devil’s four-poster (n.) [clubs, being black, are characterized as ‘devilish’]

the four of clubs.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 302/2: from ca. 1835.
devil’s (picture) books (n.) (also devil’s bible, ...prayer books)

a pack of playing cards.

Swift Intelligencer (2nd edn) 4 43: Cards are the devil’s own invention, for which reason, time out of mind they are and have been called the devil’s books.
[UK]Swift Polite Conversation 86: Damn your Cards, said he, they are the Devil’s Books.
[UK]Burns Twa Dogs in Works (1842) 65/2: They sip the scandal potion pretty; Or lee-lang nights, wi’ crabbit leuks / Pore owre the devil’s pictur’d beuks.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. VII 90/2: [heading] Pack of Cards spiritualized; or, the Consecration of the Devil’s Books.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
Thackeray ‘Capt. Rook and Mr. Pigeon’ in Works III (1898) 500: I often think that the devil’s books, as cards are called, are let out to us from Old Nick’s circulating library.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act IV: Sam Willoughby in this place, and over the devil’s books, too.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. (2 edn) 3: Devil’s Books - Playing cards (Presbyterian).
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Sept. 13/2: In a betting case tried in the Tamworth (N.S.W.) Court, the Bench of magistrates, one and all, professed that they did not know the meaning of a ‘right bower,’ or ‘The Devil’s Prayer Book.’ Sweet innocents.
[US]J.K. Van Rensselaer [bk title] The Devil’s Picture Books, a History of Playing Cards.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 23: Devil’s Book, a pack of cards.
[UK]Belfast News-Letter 11 Apr. 6/5: The familiar ‘devil’s books’ for playing cards smacks of Puritan origin.
[US]Sun (NY) 10 May 37/2: The old-time prejudice against the devil’s picture book was strong in my family, but I held on to that pack with grim determination.
[US]F.P. Dunne Mr Dooley Says 102: Some iv th’ wretches were playin’ cards, properly called th’ Divvle’s Bible.
[US]Eve. World (NY) 16 Nov. 18/7: Many antions claim the questionable honor of the invention of ‘the Devil’s picture books’ as the Puritans of New England delight to call them.
[US]A. Wykes Illus. Guide to Gambling 161: Some old shipmasters won’t allow ‘the devil’s picture-books’ aboard; or, if they do, they'll have them thrown overboard at the slightest indication that anything is going wrong.
devil’s picture-gallery (n.)

a pack of playing cards.

[UK]W.E. Collinson Contemp. Eng. 31: My father [...] jocularly referred to the cards as the Devil’s picture-gallery.
devil’s pictures (n.)

a pack of playing cards.

[UK]D.H. Lawrence Sons and Lovers i. 20: Morel never in his life played cards, [...] ‘the devil’s pictures’, he called them!
devil’s playthings (n.)

a pack of playing cards.

[UK]Essex Standard 23 Apr. 8/3: Dissenters and others [...] think dancing sinful, and cards ‘devil’s playthings’.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]Yorks Eve. Post 19 Oct. 12/4: He was once stopped from performing a card trick [...] by a member of the church, who held that cards were ‘the devil’s playthings’.

In the context of alcohol

devil’s brew (n.)


[Aus]Mercury (Hubart) 23 Apr. 2/5: [from the Stranraer Free Press] [...] soul destroyer, hell broth, devil’s brew .
[UK]Liverpool Echo 7 Apr. 4/5: ‘Donnybrook’ Whisky. A veritable devil’s brew.
[UK]Gloucs. Echo 13 July 4/1: ‘Devil’s Brew’ Fined £25 [...] for being in possession of ‘whisky’ in the preparation of which methylic alcohol was used.
[US]R. Goffin Horn of Plenty 84: How ’bout a shot of devil’s brew?
W. Poley Alcoholism: A Treatment Manual 14: If, when you say whiskey, you mean that devil’s brew, the poison spirit, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home and creates misery, poverty, yes, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children, [...] then I am certainly against it with all of my heart! 13 June 🌐 Ever see the movie ‘Thunder Road’? [...] it’s the theme song that stands out in my mind [...] ‘Thunder was his engine, and white lightnin’ was his load....It was moonshine, moonshine to quench the devil’s thirst, the law they swore they’d get him, but the devil got him first.’ Sort of an ode to the illegality of making and transporting the ‘devil’s brew’.
devil’s dye (n.) (also devil’s dye stuff)

(US) whisky.

[US]‘Edmund Kirke’ Southern Friends 49: The latter region [...] was absolutely packed with thirsty natives, imbibing certain fluids known at the South as ‘blue ruin,’ ‘bust-head,’ [...] and ‘devil’s dye,’ at the rate of a ‘bit’ a glass.
[US]Perrysburg Jrnl (OH) 10 Nov. 2/3: He proved that rum and whisky and the like was the ‘Devil’s dye stuff’.
devil’s piss (n.)

a strong alcoholic drink.

[UK]N. Ward The Rambling Rakes 13: Tyr’d with the Day’s Fatigue, and my Brains over-burthen’d with the stupifying fumes of our Fiery Devils-Piss, I fell fast a Sleep.
devil’s nobbler (n.) [nobbler n.3 ]

(Aus.) a variety of alcoholic drink.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 11 Apr. 12/2: A dramatic company is playing ‘Shout, or the Devil’s Nobbler,’ throughout the Victorian provinces – ‘with all the original Melbourne effects.’ Does this mean that the Melbourne effects upon the audience, or are we to understand that the players exhibit the usual effects of ‘Devil’s nobblers?’.
devil’s urine (n.)


Radio 4 News 18 Sept. [BBC radio] The City boys [...] use of devil’s urine and devil’s dandruff.

In the context of drugs

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

(drugs) crack cocaine; methamphetamine.

[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 261: Beware the devil’s dandruff, he heard an actress warn.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. 25 July 24: Doing rather too much Devil’s dandruff.
[UK]J. Baker Chinese Girl (2001) 12: There was never a day went by when you couldn’t score on the inside. Angel dust, Devil’s dandruff, Hessle or Herb.
Radio 4 News 18 Sept. [BBC radio] The City boys [...] use of devil’s urine and devil’s dandruff.
[US]J. Stahl Bad Sex on Speed 71: A former meth addict [...] on a call-in show taking about Satan’s Dandruff and how he ‘turned his life around’ with the Lord.
[UK]‘Aidan Truhen’ Price You Pay 210: [He] does demolition likewise pepped on the Devil’s Dandruff.
devil’s dick (n.) [dick n.1 (5)]

(US black) a pipe for smoking crack cocaine.

[US]T. Williams Crackhouse 25: She decides to smoke her pipe as is. ‘My friend calls the pipe the devil’s dick, because the more you smoke the more you want,’ she says.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 7: Devil’s dick — Crack pipe.
devil’s dust (n.)

see separate entry.

General uses

In compounds

devil dogs (n.)

the US Marines.

[US] letter in K.F. Cowing Dear Folks at Home (1919) 203: ‘They’re Americans!’ and ‘Teufelhunden!’ (devil dogs). That’s what they call the Marines down at Verdun.
[US]Eve. World (NY) 6 Aug. 6/6: [USMC recruitment advert] ‘Devil Dogs!’ ‘Look out for the American Devil Dogs!’.
[US]N.Y. Tribune 2 July 3/1: Roosevelt and other members [...] gather [...] to review five thousand of Uncle Sam’s ‘Devil Dogs’.
[US]I. Franklyn Knights of the Cockpit 3: Considered the best flyer in the Marine Corps, tales of his courage and daring were recounted over and over again by Devil Dogs throughout the world.
[US]Mencken Amer. Lang. (4th edn) 574: The term devil-dogs, often applied to the Marines during the World War, was supposed to be a translation of the German teufelhunde.
[US](con. 1943) A. Myrer Big War 42: You’re a marine, a two-fisted, hard-drinking, steel-chewing, hell-roaring leatherneck of a devil-dog.
[US]G.L. Coon Meanwhile, Back at the Front 131: Sterling stuff, these devil dogs.
[US]G. Hasford Short-Timers (1980) 13: At Belleau Wood the Marines were so vicious that the German infantrymen called them Teufel-Hunden – ‘devil dogs.’.
[UK]E.M. Hammel Root 134: The others punctuated the epithet with a solid ‘Oorah’ Devildog grunt.
devil’s bite (n.)

the contraction of the vaginal muscles around the penis during intercourse.

[Scot]in Order of the Beggar's Benison and Merryland (1892) 53: Some women have such an effect upon men as to make the penis swell largely immediately before the ejection of the semen, the inner labia [...] pressing the penis. From the intensity pf the pleasure this has been termed ‘the Coynte-grip’ or ‘the devil’s bite’.
[UK] ‘Sub-Umbra, or Sport among the She-Noodles’ in Pearl 4 Oct. 3: She [...] rested for a moment to indulge in the exquisite pleasure of the devil’s bite, which she seemed to possess to a most precocious extent, the folds of her cunt contracting and throbbing upon my swelling prick in the most delicious manner.
devil’s box (n.) [the supposed sinfulness of music]

(US) a violin.

N.Y. Folklore II 240: Devil’s box [...] is a common synonym for fiddle.
Charles Wolfe Devil’s Box: Masters of Southern Fiddling n.p.: They called the instrument ‘the devil’s box’ because some thought it was sinful to play one.
devil’s claws (n.)

(UK prison) orig. used by customs to mark a seized vessel, then a synon. for the ‘broad arrow’ marking on convict clothes.

Worcs. Herald Supp. 14 Oct. 5: The exciseman came put his broad arrow upon it, which you call the devil’s claw (laughter).
[UK]Wilts. Indep. 29 Feb. 4/6: It was said at the sea ports, when a vessel was seized the custom-house authorities, she was marked by a broad arrow; and this was called, in the cant the ports, the devil’s claw.
Jarrow Exp. 17 Oct. 7/5: A Scotch cap; worsted stockings, and a pair of shoes, completed the uniform of a full private in Her Majesty's Convict Service. This uniform was decorated all over with the ‘devil’s claws’ (the broad arrow), .
[UK]Barrère & Leland Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
devil’s colours (n.) (also devil’s livery) [the use of black to denote mourning and yellow for quarantine]

black and yellow; also plain black (see cite 1899).

[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.
[Ire]Tuam Herald 18 June 2/3: [H]irelings who [...] tauntingly exhibited placards in colours popularly known the Devil’s livery, of black and yellow.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 143: Devil’s livery black and yellow. From the mourning and quarantine uses of the colours.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. (2 edn) 3: Devil’s-livery - Quarantine yellow and black.
[UK]Bristol Mercury 5 Apr. 8/5: Among many eccentricities, Mr Fitzhugh entertained a rooted dislike to black clothes, called them ‘the devil’s livery,’ and would not be prevailed upon to wear anything black.
devil’s delight (n.)

a row, a fuss; thus kick up/play the devil’s delight, to have a rowdy argument or make a disturbance.

[UK]Morn. Chron. (London) 18 Mar. 3/4: ARBUTHNOT is all in a bustle, / And has written his friends to invite; / Saying Normanby, Creevey and Russell / Are playing the devil's delight.
[UK]Universal Songster II 418/1: Ere she proved herself a termagant quite, And kicked up with Dick the Devil’s delight.
[UK]‘Billy Bighead’ in Cove in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 227: She kick’d up the devil’s delight, / And call’d him a brute and a bag o’ bone.
Poughkeepsie Casket II 37/3: You can’t go on a spree; for when you come home, missus kicks up the devil's delight.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville General Bounce (1865) 175: His wives [...] was yowlin’, and cryin’, and kickin’ up the devil’s delight.
[US]G. Thompson Gay Girls of N.Y. 21: Disorder reigned supreme, and the ‘Devil’s Delight’ was kicked up generally.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 142: Devil’s delight a noise or row of any description. Generally used thus: ? ‘They kicked up the devil’s delight’.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 23: Devil’s Delight, a row of any kind.
[US]Mt Sterling Advocate (KY) 1 June 5/6: The gurgling of the faucet is the devil’s delight.
[Scot]Aberdeen Jrnl 7 June 1/5: He knew of a dance hall where a nuisance was created because the dancers ‘kicked up the devil’s delight’.
devil’s doorbell (n.)

(US) the clitoris.

Urban Dict. 17 Feb. 🌐 Mum: Your Dad rung the devils doorbell last night.
Urban Doct. 22 May 🌐 Samantha: You look tired today! Melissa: I know, I was up all night ringing the Devil’s Doorbell.
Twitter 30 Sept. 🌐 The clitoris is not meant for self pleasure [...] That’s the devil’s doorbell and if you keep pressing it soon enough he will answer.
devil’s dung (n.) [i.e. Pers. aza, mastic + Lat. foetida, stinking; the substance is used both in medicine and in cooking]

asafoetida (Ferula assa-foetida).

[UK]Dekker Honest Whore Pt 1 III i: The Divels dung in thy teeth.
[UK]Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 258: The devil’s dung, which he had so plentifully crammed into the roasted fowls.
[UK]Sterne Tristram Shandy (1949) 521: ’Tis all pepper, garlick, staragen, salt, and devil’s dung – by the great arch cook of cooks.
[Scot]C.K. Sharpe Correspondence (1888) I 203: I devoured loads of devil’s dung rounded into pills.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sheffield Dly Teleg. 12 Aug. 7/4: That which we call the devil’s-dung by any other name would stink as bad.
[Scot]Aberdeen Jrnl 11 Aug. 7/1: Carlyle [...] he calls ‘Diogenes Devil’s-dung’.
devil’s dust (n.)

see separate entry.

devil’s guts (n.) [see cit. 1785]

a surveyor’s chain; note Shakespear Dict. Hindustani & Eng. (1820) shaitan ki ant, The devil’s guts, any thing very long and winding) .

[UK]J. Ray Proverbs (2nd edn) 72: The Devils guts, i.e. The surveyours chain.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Devil’s guts, a surveyor’s chain, so called by farmers, who do not like their land should be measured by their landlords.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
devil’s half-acre (n.) (US)

1. a rough or unworkable piece of land.

[US]Edgefield Advertiser (SC) 28 Apr. 1/1: ‘Shamrock Mountain’ is a large space [...] barren of tree or shrub [...] ’tis called the ‘Devil’s Half Acre’.
[US]Bloomfield Times (PA) 15 Aug. 5/4: From one little piece of land in Spring township, called the ‘devil’s half-acre’, Mr David Fry raised [...] 15 bushels of oats.
Buffalo Eve. News (NY) 27 July 31/1: All had a close call from a watery grave in the Devil' Half Acre.
[US] in DARE.
Central N.J. Home News (New Brunswick, NJ) 5 Feb. 24/6: I did a two-hour [...] walk to the Devil’s Half-Acre boulder field.

2. (also devil’s acre) the rough or ‘red light’ area of a town.

A. Sherwood Gazetteer of GA 175: Devil's Half Acre, is in Putnam, 10 miles SW Eatonton, 12 Monticello ; contains 3 houses, dram shop, 2 shops, and PO called Sanford's X Roads. A half acre of land was purchased here in the first settlement of the country, [...] it became the theatre of so much vice that the distinctive name above was given it.
Civilian & Teleg. (Cumberland, MD) 4 Oct. 3/1: Their meeting [...] came off in the Devil’s Half Acre.
[UK]Sportsman 5 Mar. 2/1: Notes on News [...] [C]ertain public-houses within hail of that Devil’s Acre, Leicester-square [...] are filled with thieves and prostitutes [...] tawdry ‘gay women,’ their sallow, low-browed fancy men, and the snake-headed young thieves who haunt our West End thoroughfares.
Clearfield Republican (PA) 6 Nov. 2/4: ‘The Devil’s half-acre’ [...] is so full of pugilism bad rum and worse women that even the Clintorn Republican revolts at it.
[US]New Northwest (Portland, OR) 7 Mar. 2/4: A lady [...] who has lived for nearly a quarter of a century in [...] a place once denominated by a disgusted individual, as the ‘Devil’s half-acre’.
[US]Interior Jrnl (Stanford, KY) 4 Feb. 1/4: Curious Kentucky town nomenclature [...] ‘Devil’s Den’ and ‘Hell’s Halfacre’ in Spencer.
[US]Eve. Star (Wash., DC) 30 Aug. 10/5: ‘Hell’s Bottom’ and ‘Devil’s Half-Acre’ [...] sections of the city are beginning to lose their identities.
[Scot]Glasgow Herald 4 Oct. 3/8: The wild and lawless people of ‘The Devil's Half Acre’.
Escanaba Morn. Press (MI) 17 Aug. 2/3: Police will swoop down [on] twenty-five cent ‘flophouses’ in the ‘Devil’s Half Acre’.
[US]Overland Mthly 1 Jan. 198/2: He had graduated from th Devil’s Half Acre before the Duke reigned there with his ragged band.
News Jrnl (Wilmington, DE) 10 May 14/2: [pic. caption] ‘Devil’s Half Acre’ is being evacuated according to police orders [...] a typical shanty [...] is home for someone.
(ref. to mid-19C) G.E. Shankle Amer. Nicknames 125/1: During the middle decades of the nineteenth century the slum section of Augusta, Me., was termed the Devil's Half Acre because it was inhabited chiefly by people of questionable character.
W.L. McAtee Oddments 10: Devil’s Half-acre-Area between Hillsboro Street and Airport Road, once used by bootleggers [DARE].
[US] letter in N.Y. Times n.p.: My town in Maine has ‘The Devil’s HalfAcre’ – now shortened to ‘The Acre’ – so named because the residents of that little area fought so consistently in years past [DARE].
[US]J. Gould Maine Lingo 72: Devil’s Half Acre – That part of old Bangor where choppers and river drivers disported. The vicinity of lower Exchange Street, now re-urbanized.
[Ire]Irish Times 2 July n.p.: Dublin Castle – or the Devil’s Half Acre as Michael Collins once called it – has undergone some £10 million worth of structural development .
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.

[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 2 June 1/3: Among the batch of ‘Devil’s Own’ admitted to the rank of solicitors and proctors yesterday [etc.].
[UK]Regiment 27 June 203/2: The ‘Devil’s Own,’ which once consisted of the limbs of the law, is a very crack corps.
devil’s neckerchief (n.)

the hangman’s noose; often ext. with ...on the way to Redriffe.

W. Rendle Old Southwark 302: The Devil’s neckerchief would seem to be euphemistic, or slang, for the gallows, or the rope.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 303/1: ca. 1810–60.
devil’s necklace (n.)

(Aus.) a snake.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Apr. 14/3: I had just concluded, after a long wait, that it was a billet for Job to tackle, when suddenly the ‘devil’s necklace’ appeared, and seeing his reflection in the glass, thought, I suppose, it was his old woman, rushed forward to welcome her, and met his fate.
devil’s regiment (n.) (also devil’s regiment of the line) [coined by Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881)]


[UK]Carlyle q. in Lit. Gaz. 2 Mar. 156/3: This beautiful Establishment, or Oasis of Purity intended for the Devil’s regiments of the line .
Melville Confidence Man Ch. xix: He belongs to the Devil’s regiment; and I have a great mind to expose him.
H.B. Sprague Hist. of the 13th Infantry Regt of Conn. Volunteers 54: Deserters from the Confederate army, deserters from the Union army, foreign rogues from the four quarters of the world, gamblers, ‘fancy men,’ thieves, cut-throats – all extent banded together, and forming a sort of ‘Devil’s regiment of the line’.
[UK]Gravesend Reporter 14 Mar. 8/1: Others, however, enlist boldly in the devil’s regiment, and swagger under his colours [...] Blueskins, Dick Turpins, Sheppards, and the whole ill-favoured progeny.
[UK]Sheffield Dly Teleg. 18 Sept. 12/2: Mixed with the main army of sightseers there are at least a few thousand who belong of right to those forces which Carlyle terms ‘the Devil’s Regiment of the Line’.
[Scot]Dundee Advertiser 1 Oct. 5/1: The ‘Devil’s regiment of the line’ unfortunately never scarce of recruits or seasoned veterans. It is because of this that we are compelled keep an elaborate police and prison system.
Salisbury Times 9 Dec. 3/1: [headline] ‘THE DEVIL’S REGIMENT OF THE LINE.’ There is ragged fringe round society, woven, though may be, with and gold, which makes us shudder when think of it, and it always will be so. There will always be some in this race of life, either from merited or unmerited misfortune, who will be left behind, and if left behind, and unassisted will be submerged .
[Scot]Dundee Eve. Teleg. 10 Jan. 2/5: IN THE DEVIL’S REGIMENT. Breaking into Cellars. Robert Watt (17), Charles Andrews (15), and Walter Mackie (16), all millworkers [...] were next placed at the bar.
[Scot]Dundee Eve. Teleg. 27 Jan. 3/3: The Sheriff —You appear to be qualifying for what Carlyle calls ‘the devil’s regiment of the line’ —a contemptible squad. One hundred years ago or even less you would have been hanged for your behaviour.
devil’s tattoo (n.) (also Old Gentleman’s tattoo, tattoo) [? pvb ‘The devil finds work for idle hands’]

1. the tapping of one’s fingers or feet, often through boredom or irritation.

[UK]J. Kidgell Card I 61: Down she set herself, Sukey, in an easy Chair, sighing and complaining with insinite Discomposure, beating the Devil's Tattoo with her Foot upon the Frame of a Table incessantly for two Hours.
[UK]London Mag. Oct. 496/2: This distinction [...] threw the grandees into every nervous sensation; fans fluttered, heads tossed, and every toe beat the devil's tattoo.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: The devil’s tattoo; beating with one’s foot against the ground, as done by persons in low spirits.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[Scot]Sir W. Scott Search after Happiness in The Sale-Room V 1 Feb. xv: His sugar-loaves and bales about he threw, And on his counter beat the Devil’s tattoo.
[UK]R.B. Peake Comfortable Lodgings I i: Play the devil’s tattoo with your stick, like a selfish old crab you are.
[UK]R. Barham Ingoldsby Legends (1862) 181: Her tears had ceased; but her eyes were cast down, and mournfully fixed upon her delicate little foot, which was beating the devil’s tattoo.
[UK]Thackeray Vanity Fair II 354: Lord Steyne made no reply except by beating the devil’s tattoo, and biting his nails.
[US]Flash (NY) 3 Oct. n.p.: Playing the devil’s tattoo with a mallet on a board.
[Aus]G.C. Mundy Our Antipodes II 115: They set to work on the seams of the deck, commencing and keeping up a devil’s tattoo that would have awakened the seven sleepers.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour 277: Beating the devil's tattoo upon the table to keep himself awake.
[UK]Thackeray Adventures of Philip (1899) 608: The other made me far from comfortable by performing a tattoo on my chair.
[NZ]T. Moser Mahoe Leaves 54: Parnapa proceeded to beat the ‘devil’s tattoo’ upon his iron pot.
[UK]Besant & Rice Golden Butterfly I 255: Joseph beat the tattoo on his chair.
[UK]Bristol Magpie 12 May 7/2: [She] falls into chair, plays devil’s tattoo on floor with feet, shrieks herself into a fit.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 10 May2/3: The third [...] beating the Old Gentleman’s tattoo with his fingers upon the window-pane.
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 25 Sept. 11/1: Up went her hind legs to annihilate me, and she played a most marvellous ‘devil’s tattoo’ in the air.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 13 Apr. 434: The floating ice, which for many days kept playing ‘the devil’s tattoo’ against the ship’s sides with the out-going and the in-coming of the tide.
[US]Omaha Dly Bee (NE) 8 Feb. 7/4: The district attorney stood at the window [...] one nervous hand beats a devil’s tattoo against the somewhat grimy pane.
[Aus]M. Garahan Stiffs 300: My brain took fast hold of that ‘go low’ and played a devil’s tattoo with the phrase.
[US]C. Coe Me – Gangster 92: I heard the neck of the bottle play a tattoo on the rim of his glass.
[UK]M. Marshall Tramp-Royal on the Toby 20: The rain beat a devil’s own tattoo on the byre roof.

2. a violent assault.

[UK]Annals of Sporting 1 Mar. 200/1: [He] went in search of his ivory-box, which he found, and beat the devil’s tattoo on it.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 15 Feb. 2/7: Having, by force of arms and agility of legs, beat the devil’s tattoo upon the precious body of his unfortunate better half.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 27 Sept. 6/3: The devil’s tattoo was scored on mouth, nose, chin, brow, and body with both hands.
[UK]T. O’Reilly Tiger of the Legion 22: Hard, bony little fists [...] played the very devil’s tattoo on my ribs .
devil’s triangle (n.)

(US) threeway sex between two men and one woman.

B.M. Kavanagh High School Yr Bk 🌐 Devil’s Triangle; Down Geezer, Easy, Spike.
/ 27 Sept. 🌐 Kavanaugh was also asked about the meaning of the phrase ‘Devil’s Triangle’ — which many believe refers to sex between two men and one woman, but which Kavanaugh said was a drinking game akin to Quart.

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.’]

an argument, a row.

[UK]Morn. Chron. (London) 16 Aug. 3/2: Riot at the Haymarket Theatre or, The Devil Among the Tailors [...] The utmost noise and confusion prevailed in the house until nine o’clock, as the rioters would not suffer a syllable to be heard.
[UK]Chester Chron. 5 June 3/1: Our contemporary has played ‘the Devil among the tailors’ — As these fractional parts of humanity [...] are very ugly customers.
[Aus]Northern Star 24 June 13/3: The ‘Devil Among the Tailors’ Jew v. Gentile [...] The affair originated in certain disputes between Mr Hyam and the journeyman tailors.
[UK]Sheffield Indep. 4 Mar. 7/3: ‘An Old Tea Merchant’ who has not heard the old story of the Devil among the Tailors! [...] seems to have got among the grocers of Sheffield.
[UK]Sports Argus 4 Dec. 2/1: [headline] Hull City Play Devil-Aming-the-Tailors with Midland Crackerjacks.
[UK]Western Dly Press 21 June 4/7: When defendant had signed the contract he said, ‘I know I’ve put the devil among the tailors now’.
devil-on-the-coals (n.) (also beggar-on-the-coals)

(Aus.) a small unleavened loaf hastily baked in hot ashes.

A. Polehampton Kangaroo Land 76: Instead of damper we occasionally made what is colonially known as ‘devils on the coals.’ [...] They are made about the size of a captain’s biscuit, and as thin as possible, thrown on the embers and turned quickly with the hand.
[Scot]Blackwood’s Mag. 144 715/1: Now I’ll boil the billet, make some tea, and cook you some devils on the coals.
Western Champion (Barcaldine) 28 Aug. 3/3: He had laughed me to scorn for drinking tea with milk, and had been unsympathetically mirthful over my ineffectual effort to make ‘damper’, or the tasty ‘devils on the coals.’ [AND].
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 58: DEVIL-ON-THE-COALS bush a variant of Johnny-cake or ‘bugger-on-the-coals’.
H. Taunton Australind 45: By the time the water had boiled [...] the ‘devils-on-the-coals’ had been cooked.
[Aus]G. Seagram Bushman All 94: The grilled chops and ‘beggars-on-the-coals’.
[Aus]E. Waltham Life and Labour in Aus. 36: Bush fare in the shape of ‘damper,’ ‘dough boys,’ and ‘beggars on the coals’.
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’]

to have sexual intercourse.

[UK]N. Breton Good and the Badde in Works II 13: [She] is partly a Chyrurgion, but most for the allaying of swelling in the lower parts, and hath commonly a charme to coniure the diuell into hell.
[UK] ‘The Lusty Friar of Dublin’ in Pepys Ballads (1987) III 43: [She] would often presume, To suffer this bald-pated Fryar, to put his old Pope into Rom. [Ibid.] IV 138: [They have] put Pope into Rome, and made them the Cuckolds of Branford.
[[UK]Laugh and Be Fat 89: No sooner had he found that she had burnt his Pope, but he presently concluded [...] that instead of a Maiden-head, she had given him for his Five Guineas, a confounded Clap].
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 95: Diable, m. The penis; to put the devil into hell (Boccaccio) = to copulate.
[US]E. Field ‘A French Crisis’ in Facetiae Americana 19: And with a Holy Father, put the Devil into hell.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 183: A lot of the fun of sexual activity lies in its forbidden nature [...] Examples occur in such phrases as putting the Devil into Hell (= intromission).
[US]D. Lypchuk ‘A dirty little story’ in eye mag. 8 July 🌐 They put the devil into hell but she was disappointed because it was a bit of a jiffy pop.

In exclamations

devil’s cure!

(Irish) a mild excl.

[UK]Monthly Rev. V 585: ‘The devil's cure to you!’ said Skelton, instantly firing his second pistol.
Irish State Trials 225: Have you the expression ‘The devil’s cure to Saunders’ in that report? No.
[Ire]L. Mackay Mourne Folk 107: The stone struck Denis and he gave a great yell. ‘Divil’s cure t’ye,’ sis I.
[Ire]F. O’Connor Sel. Stories 59: When Michael John Cronin stole the funds of the Carricknabreena Hurling, Football and Temperance Association, [...] everyone said: ‘Devil’s cure to him!’ .