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evil


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Evil communications corrupt good manners proper conduct is harmfully influenced by false information or knowledge; the saying is also used to assert the deleterious effect of bad example. The saying is recorded from the early 15th century. Often with biblical allusion to 1 Corinthians 35:33, ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.’

evil doers are evil dreaders someone engaged in wrongdoing is likely to be nervous and suspicious of others. The saying is recorded from the mid 16th century.

the Evil Empire a term for the former Soviet Union, deriving from a speech by Ronald Reagan in 1983. The name is often used allusively of a political approach focusing exclusively on the perceived dangers from a particular direction.

the evil eye a gaze or stare superstitiously believed to cause material harm; the expression in this sense is recorded from the late 18th century.

evil to him who evil thinks the person placing a disgraceful interpretation on words or actions is likely to bring ill upon himself. A saying, recorded from the mid 15th century, which in its French form honi soit qui mal y pense is the motto of the Order of the Garter.

never do evil that good may come of it the prospect of a good outcome cannot justify wrongdoing; often with biblical allusion to Romans 3:8, ‘And not…Let us do evil, that good may come.’ (Compare the end justifies the means.) The saying is recorded from the late 16th century.

of two evils, choose the least a statement of what to do when none of the possible course of actions is palatable. The saying is recorded from the late 14th century, but the idea is found earlier in Greek, in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, ‘we must as a second-best course, it is said, take the least of the evils,’ and Latin, in Cicero's De Officiis, ‘of evils choose the least.’

See also axis of evil, a great book is a great evil, money is the root of all evil.


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