what is got over the devil’s back is spent under his belly

What is improperly obtained is spent in reckless pleasures or debauchery.

1582 S. GOSSON Plays Confuted G7v That which is gotten ouer the deuils backe, is spent vnder his belly.

1607 MIDDLETON Michaelmas Term IV. i. What’s got over the devil’s back (that’s by knavery), must be spent under his belly (that’s by lechery).

1670 J. RAY English Proverbs 80 What is gotten over the Devils back, is spent under his belly... What is got by oppression or extortion is many times spent in riot and luxury.

1821 SCOTT Pirate III. iv. You shall not prevail on me to go farther in the devil’s road with you; for..what is got over his back is spent—you wot how.

1952 N. TYRE Mouse in Eternity 93 What I say is what goes over the devil’s back is sure to come under his belly.


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