Idiom of the Day – “The Devil’s in the Details”

free-devil-clipartWhen people say that the devil is in the details, they mean that small things in plans and projects that are often overlooked can cause serious problems or delays later on.  Like many proverbs which involve the devil, it is meant to sound a note of caution. For example, when one person expresses an unrealistic degree of confidence in a plan, another person might point out, “Let’s wait and see. The devil’s in the details.” Another example is when we examine a contract or agreement. Generally, the agreement looks reasonable at first glance, but a closer examination of the terms and small print may reveal a problem.  We need to proceed with caution, so we might say, “the devil’s in the details.”

Related idiom: “the devil you know” is a shortened version of the longer saying, “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 with an unknown person or thing