Popular expressions: Idioms related to the devil
Idioms and proverbs are often lines that conceal some type of universal truth. And what’s more universal than evil? The devil makes numerous appearances in popular Spanish expressions, but we’ve selected the four that we think are most representative. They also express the peculiar notion that we have here in Spain of the evil one.
- “Más sabe el Diablo por viejo que por diablo”: Is the devil malicious and cunning by nature, or were his wicked ways nurtured over the eons of time? This idiom suggests that we learn more about the world through experience than by nature. Experience often brings with it something of a grim outlook on life.
- “Si Dios no te da hijos el diablo te da sobrinos”: this means that no matter how careful we are, we can always end up finding ourselves in a difficult situation due to circumstances beyond our control. How many times do we get into trouble just because we were in the wrong place at the wrong time?
- “Más vale un pan con Dios que dos con el Diablo”: This expression, which has fallen out of use, means that it’s better to settle for a little of something virtuous than have all of something that’s malevolent. With the way things are going in the world right now, it seems that this is one of the few idioms that’s not true… but we’re still too young to know if it’s true what they say about how those that do evil always get bitten in the end.
- “Donde el diablo puso la mano, queda huella para rato”: Evilness always leaves its mark, whether it’s a wound, resentment, anxiety, distress, pain… If we can assume that the hand of the devil is like a claw which, much like a spider, is capable of leaving a terrible scar, we get the association of ideas here.
All of these expressions, except maybe the first one, express the same basic idea: avoid hanging around bad people, don’t do bad things, and stay out of trouble. So learn from these expressions and be good!
Other popular Spanish Sayings
- A la fuerza ahorcan
- De noche todos los gatos son pardos
- Lo bueno, si es breve, dos veces bueno
- "Ya que la casa se quema, calentémonos en ella"
- "The house of the soap-maker is a slippery place"
- "Santo era Pedro y negó a su maestro"
- "Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada"
- "En Carnaval todo pasa, hasta los novios a las casas"