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Devil (A)


in legal parlance, is a leader’s fag who gets up the facts of a brief, with the laws bearing on it, and arranges everything for the pleader in methodical order.

These juniors have surplus briefs handed to them by their seniors. A good fag is a good devil and is sure to get on.

The Attorney-General’s devils are the Counsel of the Treasury, who not unfrequently get promoted to the bench.

A printer’s devil. Formerly, the boy who took the printed sheets from the tympan of the press. Old Moxon says: “They do commonly so black and bedaub themselves that the workmen do jocosely call them devils.” The errandboy is now so called. The black slave employed by Aldo Manuzio, Venetian printer, was thought to be an imp. Hence the following proclamation:

“I, Aldo Manuzio, printer to the Doge, have this day made public exposure of the printer’s devil. All who think he is not flesh and blood may come and pinch him.”—Proclamation of Aldo Manuzio, 1490.

The French Devil. Jean Bart, an intrepid French sailor, born at Dunkirk. (1650–1702.)

Son of the Devil. Ezzeliʹno, chief of the Gibelins, and Governor of Vicenza, was so called for his infamous cruelties. (1215–1259.)        

“Fierce Ezelin, that most inhuman lord,

Who shall be deemed by men the child of hell.”


The White Devil of Wallaʹchia. George Castrioʹta was so called by the Turks. (1404–1467.)

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Devil catch the Hindmost (The)
Devil in Dublin City (The)
Devil looking Over Lincoln. (The)
Devil loves Holy Water (As the)
Devil-may-care (A)
Devil must be Striking (The) (German)
Devil on the Neck (A)
Devil rides on a Fiddlestick (The)
Devil Sick would be a Monk (The)
Devil to Pay and no Pitch Hot (The)
Devil (A)
Devil’s Advocate (The)
Devil’s Apple
Devil’s Arrows (Yorkshire)
Devil’s Bird (The)
Devil’s Bones
Devil’s Books
Devil’s Cabinet (The)
Devil’s Candle
Devil’s Current (The)
Devil’s Daughter’s Portion (The)