the devil to pay

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dev·il

 (dĕv′əl)
n.
1. often Devil In many religions, the major personified spirit of evil, ruler of Hell, and foe of God. Used with the.
2. A subordinate evil spirit; a demon.
3. A wicked or malevolent person.
4. A person: a handsome devil; the poor devil.
5. An energetic, mischievous, daring, or clever person.
6. Printing A printer's devil.
7. A device or machine, especially one having teeth or spikes and used for tearing.
8. An outstanding example, especially of something difficult or bad: has a devil of a temper.
9. A severe reprimand or expression of anger: gave me the devil for cutting class.
10. Informal Used as an intensive: Who the devil do you think you are?
tr.v. dev·iled, dev·il·ing, dev·ils or dev·illed or dev·il·ling
1. To season (food) heavily.
2. To annoy, torment, or harass.
3. To tear up (cloth or rags) in a toothed machine.
Idioms:
between the devil and the deep blue sea
Between two equally unacceptable choices.
full of the devil
Very energetic, mischievous, daring, or clever.
give the devil his due
To give credit to a disagreeable or malevolent person.
go to the devil
1. To be unsuccessful; fail.
2. To become depraved.
3. Used in the imperative to express anger or impatience.
play the devil with
To upset or ruin.
the devil take the hindmost
Let each person follow self-interest, leaving others to fare as they may.
the devil to pay
Trouble to be faced as a result of an action: There'll be the devil to pay if you allow the piglets inside the house.

[Middle English devel, from Old English dēofol, from Latin diabolus, from Late Greek diabolos, from Greek, slanderer, from diaballein, to slander : dia-, dia- + ballein, to hurl; see gwelə- in Indo-European roots.]

the devil to pay

Great trouble to be faced as a consequence of something you have done; from the old nautical use of pay to mean “smear with tar” and the devil being the gunwale, hence the idea of a difficult job to do.
References in periodicals archive ?
But, the film should be credited for reminding us to never intrude into the past or future, because everything is related, and if you change even one seemingly insignificant detail in the total warp and woof of reality and human chronologythere could be the devil to pay!

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