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Devil take the hindmost

  • Devil take the hindmost is an idiom that first appeared sometime in the sixteenth century. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic expression devil take the hindmost, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

    Devil take the hindmost is a phrase that describes a situation in which someone thinks only of himself and his own interests, leaving others to deal with their own fates. Hindmost is an adjective that describes the person who is the furthest from the front or the one who is in the back of a line or group. The idea behind the meaning of the saying devil take the hindmost is of a group of people being pursued by the devil. The people who take care of themselves and run away with no thought about the others who may be slower or lagging behind, will be safe. It is believed that devil take the hindmost was a popular proverb during the 1500s. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber used the term as the title of a musical number in his play, Love Never Dies, first staged in the West End of London. It is a sequel to his play The Phantom of the Opera, which is the longest running Broadway show of all time. The phrase devil take the hindmost may be used as an admonition to not allow others to drag you down, or as a commentary on selfishness. The phrase is hyphenated when used as an adjective before a noun, as in devil-take-the-hindmost.

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    Examples

    Vesting post-combat stabilization responsibilities in a combination of hired hands in Raqqa and terrorist-abetting mass murderers elsewhere may be of no consequence to those who would define victory in eastern Syria as “beat ISIS and devil take the hindmost.” (Newsweek Magazine)

    His first major speech railed against “corporate greed and devil-take-the-hindmost individualism”, “extractive and exploitative political systems” and the “selfish agenda” of vested interests. (The Guardian)

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