God in the deatils (1960); No names, no pack-drill (1930)

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Tue Jan 25 22:07:04 UTC 2005

I don't know how old it is, but the German equivalent, "Der Teufel steckt
im Detail," is a staple in books of German idioms, and I've never heard
*"(Der Herr) Gott steckt im Detail."  It doesn't sound like a recent
borrowing, nor is alliteration a factor, and the presence of the same idiom
in both languages makes me think they must both go back a ways.

Peter Mc.

--On Tuesday, January 25, 2005 4:43 PM -0500 Laurence Horn
<laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:

> At 3:03 PM -0500 1/25/05, Fred Shapiro wrote:
>> On Tue, 25 Jan 2005, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>>  The version with "devil" is so common that the "God" version becomes
>>>  much more fascinating.
>> I always thought of the "god" version as the primary saying and the
>> "devil" one as a less common derivative, but a Google search shows 18,000
>> hits for "god" and 109,000 for "devil."  It may be that the currency of
>> "god is in the details" is mostly in architecture contexts whereas "devil
>> is in the details" has become a popular general proverb.  Seems like one
>> of those situations where there are two proverbs that are opposite in
>> import.
> One factor may be the alliterative effect of the "devil in the
> details" version, along the lines of "give the devil his due".
> Larry

Peter A. McGraw       Linfield College        McMinnville, Oregon
******************* pmcgraw at linfield.edu ************************

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