NAUTICAL SAYINGS THE DEVIL TO PAY
Wednesday March 18th, 2009
DEVIL TO PAY
As always, Old Nick has nothing to do with this well known phrase meaning to bring about seriously bad consequences. The original saying was ‘the devil to pay and no pitch hot’. ‘Pay’ was an old nautical term that meant to seal a ship’s seams with tar. As regular readers will already know the ‘devil’ was the name of the longest seam of a ship, which ran from stem to stern and supported the gun deck. It was also the most difficult seam to reach and when repairing a ship in dry dock sailors had to squat in the bilges to pay the devil.