the devil

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the devil (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) Used to add emphasis to a question or statement.
    What the devil are you doing here at this time of night?
    • 1593, anonymous, The Life and Death of Iacke Straw [], Act I:
      VVhat is he an honeſt man? the deuill he is, he is the Parſon of the Towne,
      You thinke ther’s no knauerie hid vnder a black gowne,
      Find him in a pulpit but twiſe in the yeare,
      And Ile find him fortie times in the ale-houſe taſting ſtrong beare.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling:
      “Brother,” said she, “whatever message Mr Blifil thinks proper to send to my niece shall be delivered to her; and I suppose she will want no instructions to make a proper answer. I am convinced she will not refuse to see Mr Blifil at a proper time.”—“The devil she won’t!” answered the squire.


Derived terms[edit]



the devil (uncountable)

  1. Used other than figuratively or idiomatically: see the,‎ devil.