Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone to be honest and protect their integrity? You could say “tell the truth and shame the devil” to instill moral values in them. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The expression “tell the truth and shame the devil” means to tell the truth, always, in all situations. It refers to a moral high ground where you should be truthful with people rather than deceive them. The phrase means that you should always tell the truth, even when tempted to lie.

If you say “tell the truth and shame the devil” to someone, you could be giving them the instruction, to tell the truth. Or you could be telling it to someone you know is guilty of something but lying about their involvement.

Example Usage

“I always tell my children to tell the truth and shame the devil. By instilling those values early, they grow up to be moral citizens and good people.”

“Say what you want, but it’s my policy to tell the truth, and shame the devil. I can’t handle dishonest people. They really grind my gears when they lie to me.”

“Tell the truth and shame the devil. Own up to what you did and confess your actions. We all know it was you, but you still refuse to admit it.”

“I wish people would tell the truth and shame the devil more often in this world. Finding honest people is getting harder. Society really is going to the dogs.”

“Tell the truth and shame the devil kids. You need to be honest with people and don’t lie to cover up something bad you did. Just be honest.”

“Why don’t you just tell the truth and shame the devil. You’ll feel so much better when you get it off your chest. Carrying around lies for decades will destroy your mental health.”

Origin

The expression “tell the truth and shame the devil” originates from a saying by the preacher Hugh Latimer. Latimer recorded the term in the archaic language of the time in his book, “Twenty Seven Sermons,” published in 1555, where it reads as follows.

“There is a common saying amongst vs., Say the truthe and shame the diuel.”

However, Shakespeare gets the credit for popularizing the term. The playwright uses the expression in his play “Henry IV. Part I, performed in 1597, where it appears as follows.

“And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil

By telling truth: tell truth and shame the devil.

If thou have power to raise him, bring him hither,

And I’ll be sworn I have power to shame him hence.

O, while you live, tell truth and shame the devil!”

Phrases Similar to Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil

  • Truthteller.
  • Truthfull.

Phrases Opposite to Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil

  • Liar liar pants on fire.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Tell the truth and shame the devil.

Ways People May Say Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil Incorrectly

The phrase “tell the truth and shame the devil” means that you bring shame to the devil by telling the truth. It’s not telling you to directly shame the devil for being evil. It means that you shame him by telling the truth in any situation.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil

You can use “tell the truth to shame the devil” in situations where you’re telling someone that they should tell the truth, regardless of the outcome. The phrase suits social and professional use. Use the expression to tell someone to own up to their mistakes at work.

Use it at home to teach your children to always tell the truth in any situation in life. It’s also a remark made in hindsight when expressing how you should have told the truth or someone else should have been truthful rather than deceitful.

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