English Idiom – Better the devil you know.

This idiom is a shortened version of the expression Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.

Meaning – Something bad and familiar is better than something bad and unknown. It is better or wiser to deal with someone you already know than to deal with someone you don’t (who might be even worse).

This expression implies that the known negative aspects or flaws of a person, situation, or circumstance are more preferable than the potential negative consequences that might arise from venturing into unfamiliar territory. It highlights the human tendency to choose what is known and predictable, even if it is not ideal, rather than taking a chance on the unknown.

Devil Idioms:

  • Devil’s advocate – To express an opposing or unpopular point of view for the sake of argument.
  • Speak of the devil – This expression is used when a person being talked about suddenly appears.


When could you use this idiom?

  • When choosing a person to provide a service for you.
  • Discussing which person should do a job for you.
  • Discussing your colleagues or employees.
  • Deciding if you should find a new job or stay in your current position.
  • Deciding which takeaway to order food from.

Example 1:

  • Daniel: “Who are you going to ask to design your new menu?”
  • Jessica: “I guess I’ll ask Dave again. His design wasn’t perfect last time but it’s better the devil you know.”

Example 2:

  • Peter: Shall we find a new mechanic to fix our car?
  • Ryan: No, let’s use the same mechanic as last time. It’s better the devil you know. I’d rather use the old mechanic again because there are so many dishonest mechanics in this town!

In The News:

Everton duo warn West Ham it could be better the devil you know as new David Moyes claims swirl

What is an idiom?

An idiom is a word or phrase that is not taken literally.  An idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its individual words, but has a separate meaning of its own.

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