he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon

he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon
A proverb advocating caution when dealing with dangerous or malevolent persons.

c 1390 CHAUCER Squire’s Tale 1. 602 Therfore bihoueth hire a ful long spoon That shal ete with a feend.

1545 R. TAVERNER tr. Erasmus’ Adages (ed. 2) 9v He had nede to haue a longe spone that shuld eate with the deuyl.

1590 SHAKESPEARE Comedy of Errors IV. iii. 59 He must have a long spoon that must eat with the devil.—What tell’st thou me of supping?

1641 D. FERGUSSON Scottish Proverbs (STS) no. 350 He should have a long shafted spoon that sups kail [vegetable broth] with the devil.

1721 J. KELLY Scottish Proverbs 147 He had need of a long Spoon that sups Kail with the Dee’l. He that has to do with wicked..Men, had need to be cautious.

1840 R. H. BARHAM Ingoldsby Legends 1st ser. 270 Who suppes with the Deville sholde have a longe spoone!

1979 ‘E. ANTHONY’ Grave of Truth viii. Hindenburg and the army thought they could use [Hitler]... Who sups with the devil needs a long spoon.


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  • he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon — ► he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon proverb a person who has dealings with a dangerous or wily person should be cautious. Main Entry: ↑sup …   English terms dictionary

  • devil — see the devil can quote Scripture for his own ends the devil finds work for idle hands to do why should the devil have all the best tunes? the devil is in the details the devil is not so black as he is painted the devil lo …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • long — adjective see long and lazy, little and loud; fat and fulsome, pretty and proud it is a long lane that has no turning art is long and life is short be the day weary or be the day long, at last it ringeth to evensong kings have long arms …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • spoon — see he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Thematic Index — absence absence makes the heart grow fonder he who is absent is always in the wrong the best of friends must part blue are the hills that are far away distance lends enchantment to the view out of sight, out of mind …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • sup — Ⅰ. sup [1] ► VERB (supped, supping) dated or N. English ▪ take (drink or liquid food) by sips or spoonfuls. ► NOUN ▪ a sip. ORIGIN Old English. Ⅱ. sup …   English terms dictionary

  • sup — see he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon …   Proverbs new dictionary

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