sell one's soul

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the medieval legend of Faust, who made a contract with the devil, exchanging his soul for worldly gains.

Verb[edit]

sell one's soul

  1. (idiomatic) To abandon one's spiritual values or moral principles for wealth or other benefits.
    • 1877, Charles Reade, The Woman Hater, ch. 3:
      "You are Marguerite, for you could fire a man's heart so that he would sell his soul to gain you."
    • 1910, John Buchan, Prester John, ch. 3:
      So I resolved to acquire a dog, and bought one from a prospector, who was stony-broke and would have sold his soul for a drink.
    • 2005 June 29, Desa Philadelphia, "Crunk: Hip-Hop's Got a New Accent," Time:
      After all, the South is where jazz and blues were invented. Where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil so he could play the licks that would become rock 'n' roll.

See also[edit]