You Know When Speaking English The Devil Is In The Details
If you have not come across this English phrase before then you are unlikely to understand or even make an educated guess what it might mean. However native British speakers use it often in business when giving a caution about a situation you might get into.
The phrase Devil is in the details meaning? It is a popular English phrase used for saying that something can look simple, however the details are complicated and are likely to cause issues.
Hi there, I’m Hilary and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. This is our Thursday podcast, so it’s slightly shorter. And just a reminder that we are running a discount code for our courses this week.
If you would like 25% discount off either of our courses, then go to our website, add the course or courses to your shopping basket, then at the checkout, put in the discount code ‘SMART154’. 25% off – you know it makes sense! And please remember, this code runs out at midnight on 16th September and it’s only available to the first 25 people who use it. When the code is gone, it’s gone!
So what shall we talk about today? Well how about a phrase? One came to mind this week, when I was catching up on the news – and of course, in the UK at the moment, there is a lot of discussion about Brexit.
Whatever side you are on in the debate, most people are reconciled now to the fact that Brexit is going to happen, we are going to be leaving the EU. However, the more you listen to the discussion, the more the phrase comes to mind. And the phrase is? ‘The devil is in the detail’.
You may hear Christians use the opposite "God is in the details meaning"
‘The devil is in the detail’. So what does that mean? Well, let’s go through the vocabulary, like we usually do. The devil – well this word probably comes, or definitely comes from the Jewish and Christian traditions. The devil is Satan, Lucifer, Diabolo – the evil one. If you believe in Heaven and Hell, well Hell is where the devil is.
The devil is a being, who is everything that is evil and bad. And the detail? Detail is a noun and detailed is the adjective (or for those who’re keen on grammar, it’s a past participle, but you don’t need to worry about that, if you don’t like grammar!) So detail, means all the tiny little parts, all the little things that you need to think about. So you can imagine, in trying to negotiate Britain leaving the EU, there’s a lot of detail or a lot of details to be thought about.
The title of this English lesson is a good "Devil in the details" Example
So ‘the devil is in the detail’ is really a warning. It’s saying ‘Be careful!’. The agreement, the contract, what’s on offer may look OK, it may look fine, on the surface. If you don’t study it carefully, everything looks OK. But if you look at the detailed level, if you look at all the details, you start to see the negatives. ‘The devil is in the detail’.
So some examples of where we might use this phrase?
If cars are made partly in the UK and partly in other countries, what trade tariff will be charged? The devil is in the detail and we don’t currently know the answers.
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You can pick how you use the in the details quote
When my sister went to sign her contract for her new job, she realised that the devil is in the detail. They were expecting her to work far more hours than she’d thought.
When you buy a new smartphone and you take out a phone contract, be careful. The devil is in the detail and you may end up paying more money that you expected.
So just a reminder – this week’s discount code is SMART154. That’s for 25% off our courses. It ends at midnight on the 16th September and it’s available to the first 25 people. There’s no devil in the detail with that – it’s just nice and simple!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
Sometimes I wish English speakers would just say what they mean. It would be so much quicker to just say "Be careful about this situation, it looks simple, but it will be complex". Instead, English speakers end up making the language more complicated by involving religion, Devils, implied meaning "The Devil is in the details".
Some would argue that this makes the English language more interesting. But at the cost of making the life of an English language student more difficult than it needs to be!
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