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Some people believe the Devil could inspire wrong-doings. I'm looking for a common expression where you can blame on the Devil such an action you have done. Implicit in the meaning is that we don't take full responsibility for doing it because we have been tempted to do so by the Devil. Here's the context I'm going to use it in:

A: Remember when you tried to steal your uncle's car?

B: It was just a devil-inspired act.

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4 Answers 4

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A well-known phrase is The Devil made me do it.

From the CBS News article "Comedian Flip Wilson Dead at 64," it was popularized on The Flip Wilson Show when the comedian routinely spoke the phrase while in costume as "Geraldine." It "became part of the national language."

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My group of friends and I use the phrase "Satan had the wheel." Usually the phrase is prompted by someone asking something like "I can't believe you did that!" or "how did you get away with that one?

It's a play on that country song that goes "Jesus take the wheel."

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    Not sure if an inside joke can be considered an idiom...
    – siledh
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 13:01
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    Idk I kind of like this one.
    – LawrenceC
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 14:53
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    @siledh I hear what you're saying, but it is a modification of an idiom, so I figured it would still be helpful. I appreciate the feedback. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 17:22
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You could say, "I was possessed by the Devil."

Demonic possession is a common theme in religion and the arts. The word "possessed" is well known and in this usage it would be easily understood to mean you believe that you don't bear personal responsibility for your action.

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

possessed (1) : influenced or controlled by something (such as an evil spirit, a passion, or an idea) (2) : mad, crazed

Furthermore, demonic possession has been used as a criminal defense in court cases. Here's one example.

When Johnson’s trial came, his defense attorney, Martin Minnella, decided to use the alleged demonic possession as an actual legal defense for his client. It would be the first time in United States history in which the defense sought to prove innocence by arguing demonic possession and therefore a lack of personal responsibility. Source

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    While the dictionary definition fits, in Christian theology demonic possession is distinct from influence. A possessed person is completely under the control of the demon; the demon can speak through their mouth, cause their limbs to move, and generally override their will completely. Hence in terms of "the devil made me do it", claiming possession is a much stronger claim than mere temptation. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demonic_possession#Christianity Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 16:12
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    @PaulJohnson That's true, but nowadays people like to exaggerate a lot :P
    – somebody
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 23:01
  • @somebody Epic comment. Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 3:41
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It was a Faustian act.

Faust is a character in a German legend. But any educated English person will know what you mean.

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    note that "Faustian" often implies an intentional bargaining, not necessarily and accidental occurrence.
    – JacobIRR
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 22:31

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