How different languages say “speak of the devil.”

Speak of the devil is a fascinating idiom of itself. It is used when an object of discussion unexpectedly becomes present during the conversation. It’s even more fascinating to know how other languages express the same occurrence. We have asked our multilingual followers at The Language Nerds about the equivalent of speak of the devil in the different languages they speak and they were generous enough to provide very insightful responses that we compiled for you here and we hope they stimulate your curiosity.


French

Speak of the wolf and he’s out of the woods.
Speak of the wolf, and there is its tail.

Arabic

When you mention the cat, it comes out jumping.

Scottish

Shout shite and it comes flying.

Swedish

When you speak of the trolls, they are standing in the hallway.

Russian

Remember the shit, and here it comes!


Spanish

Speak of the King of Rome.

German

Talk about the Devil, see a pair of horns growing.

Hebrew

It’s a pity we didn’t speak about the Messiah.

Greek

Speak of the donkey.

Hungarian

Don’t paint the devil on the wall, or it will manifest. 


Japanese

Speak of the devil and its shadow will appear.

Italian

Speak of the devil and its horns shall appear.

Norwegian

Speak of the sun, and it is shining.

Moroccan Arabic

Mention the wolf and prepare a bat.

Indonesian

You shall have a long life.


Bosnian

We were speaking about the wolf and the wolf appeared at the door!

Czech

Speak of the wolf.

Finnish

When the evil is mentioned, it appears.

Polish

Speak of the wolf and here it is.

Thai

Die Hard!

Yiddish

If one speaks of the angel, the priest comes.


Bulgarian

Speak of the wolf and he will appear near the sheep.

Korean

Even a tiger appears when he is spoken about.

Turkish

Speak of the dog and make your stick ready!

Romanian

You speak about the wolf and it is right at the door.

Chinese

Speak of Cao Cao and he’ll arrive.

Maltese

Look what the sea has brought up


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4 thoughts on “How different languages say “speak of the devil.””

  1. In Swiss French, we only say “quand on parle du loup” (speak of the wolf). I have never heard those versions with a second part to the phrase!

  2. In Spanish, we also say this rhyme: *hablando de Roma, el burro se asoma
    *Speaking of Rome, the donkey appears

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