Well, maybe the devil made me say it?

What better time than Halloween to give the devil his due? The devil, you say!

Truth be told, though, we've been giving the devil his due pretty much year-round, and all over the country. The Dictionary of American Regional English, up in Madison, Wis., has collected ,, devils by the dozen. Among the best:


C9* Devil-dancer: A gust of wind, especially on the water.

* Devil-on-a-sidewalk: A sparkling firecracker you roll with your foot.


* Devil's bopeep: A wild young girl.

* Devil's lantern: A will-o'-the-wisp.

* Devil's shoelace: A certain kind of seaweed.

Devil's snuffbox: A certain kind of mushroom; crush it and the spores fly everywhere.

* Devil's pictures: A deck of playing cards.

Devil's kindling wood: Any kind of soft drink. (It could start you on the road to liquor, you see.)

And there are more:

* When someone accomplishes something in an indirect -- or even an evasive -- way, you might say: "He beat the devil round a bush."


* When you walk into a room or a house that's totally messy: "It looks like the devil had a fit in here."

* When neither X nor O wins at tic-tac-toe: "The devil got it."

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist based in Milwaukee.