better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know

better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know
Cf. 1539 R. TAVERNER tr. Erasmus’ Adages 48 Nota res mala, optima. An euyl thynge knowen is best. It is good kepyng of a shrew [a scolding or ill-tempered woman] that a man knoweth; 1576 G. PETTIE Petit Palace 84 You had rather keepe those whom you know, though with some faultes, then take those whom you knowe not, perchaunce with moe faultes; 1586 D. ROWLAND tr. Lazarillo de Tormes H6v The olde prouerbe: Better is the euill knowne, than the good which is yet to knowe.

1857 TROLLOPE Barchester Towers II. vii. ‘Better the d—you know than the d—you don’t know,’ is an old saying..but the bishop had not yet realised the truth of it.

1937 W. H. SAUMAREZ SMITH Letter 16 May in Young Man’s Country (1977) ii. Habit has practically made me resigned to Madaripur—‘Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.’

1987 S. STEWART Lifting the Latch 166 I knowed he’d never change, it ’ud always be ‘Don’t-be-so-daft’ and no appreciation; but better the Black ‘un thee knows than the devil thee don’t.

2007 Times 14 Sept. 28 More than half (54 per cent) think that it is time for a change, while about two fifths (43 per cent) say that it is ‘better to stick with the devil you know’.


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  • better the devil you know than the devil you don't — used to say that it is better to deal with a difficult person or situation you know than with a new person or situation that could be worse • • • Main Entry: ↑devil better the devil you know than the devil you don t see ↑devil • • • Main Entry:… …   Useful english dictionary

  • better the devil you know (than the devil you don't) — better the devil you know (than the devil you don’t) phrase used for saying that it is safer to deal with a bad but familiar person or thing than to risk dealing with someone or something that you do not know and that could be worse Thesaurus:… …   Useful english dictionary

  • better the devil you know than the devil you don't — better the devil you know (than the devil you don t) something that you say to mean it is better to deal with a person or thing you know, even if you do not like them, than to deal with a new person or thing who could be even worse. I know Mike… …   New idioms dictionary

  • better the devil you know than the devil you don't know — ► better the devil you know than the devil you don t know proverb it s wiser to deal with an undesirable but familiar person or situation than to risk a change that might lead to a situation with worse difficulties or a person whose faults you… …   English terms dictionary

  • better the devil you know — (than the devil you don t) something that you say to mean it is better to deal with a person or thing you know, even if you do not like them, than to deal with a new person or thing who could be even worse. I know Mike can be difficult to work… …   New idioms dictionary

  • better the devil you know — This is the shortened form of the full idiom, better the devil you know than the devil you don t , and means that it is often better to deal with someone or something you are familiar with and know, even if they are not ideal, than take a risk… …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • better the devil you know —    This is the shortened form of the full idiom, better the devil you know than the devil you don t , and means that it is often better to deal with someone or something you are familiar with and know, even if they are not ideal, than take a risk …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • Better the devil you know —   This is the shortened form of the full idion, better the devil you know than the devil you don t , and means that it is often better to deal with someone or something you are familiar with and know, even if they are not ideal, than take a risk… …   Dictionary of English idioms

  • better the devil you know... — a new devil could be worse than the old devil    Should we fire the coach? No better the devil we know than the one we don t …   English idioms

  • The Neptunes discography — The Neptunes are a two member producing group consisting of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. This discography lists the recorded performances as a duo and individuals. It also lists the writing and production credits as The Neptunes, as Williams… …   Wikipedia

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