Better the devil (that) you know...


Spain, Spanish
¿Esta frase es una frase hecha inglesa:?

Better the devil that you know

¿Cómo podría traducirse?

Moderator's note: several threads have been merged to create this one.
Last edited by a moderator:
  • aurilla

    Senior Member
    Am Eng/PR Spanish
    "Better the devil that you know..." significa "Más vale malo conocido...."

    This is the shortened form of the full idiom, 'better the devil you know than the devil you don't', and means that it is often better to deal with someone or something you are familiar with and know, even if they are not ideal, than take a risk with an unkown person or thing.

    En español, el resto sería "que bueno por conocer".


    Senior Member
    Canada, English

    'better the devil you know than the devil you don't'
    'más vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer'



    Senior Member
    English, United States
    Could someone please give me a colloquial translation of this refran.
    I'd appreciate some different ways to say it--preferably ones without long difficult words.:) In English, we don't have to say the whole sentence because it is clear from first few words---the devil that you know. Maybe that is the same for Spanish???


    Senior Member
    Spain , Spanish

    I´m not sure, but what about "más vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer".


    Senior Member
    Native English (England) and Portuguese
    As Carola and Maddi have said, "más vale diablo/mal(o) conocido" means the same, and yes you can use just the first part of the expression and it'll be understood....
    By the way, even in English we still use "Better the devil you know"


    Senior Member
    Chicago English
    Más vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer (better the Devil you know than the Devil you don’t know)

    It means do your business with someone you know, don't take a risk with someone you don't know. It could also mean don't dump your boyfriend for the guy you just met on the internet.
    Don't sacrifice a known relationship for a new one.


    New Member
    chile - castellano
    I think the same that carola:
    better the devil you know -> más vale diablo conocido (que santo por conocer)
    The (_) are 'couse you can not say it but we suppose to understand...
    but remember, there is not an unic spanish, each country 'hispanoparlante' has his own

    good luck!


    Senior Member
    English, United States
    Perfect! Now I have 3 great options. As I mentioned above, in English, you will often hear only "the devil we/you know" without additional words, though some people would not understand. Perhaps that's the case in Spanish, too. It is a VERY useful refrán because it often drives our choices (and at times can lead to the wrong choice--because people are too scared to take a risk)
    Más vale diablo conocido
    Más vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer
    Más vale diablo conocido que diablo/ santo por conocer


    Senior Member
    Spanish of Mexico/ English of the USA
    Más vale viejo por conocido que nuevo por conocer.

    And many times, just saying: Más vale viejo...

    People usually know the rest.


    Senior Member
    Chicago English
    Then, knowing that the subject is the risk rather than the devil, here you have another one ;) :

    "más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando"
    In English this is "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" I think that's a very different idea which means don't risk what you have for something potential that may not occur.


    Senior Member
    English, United States
    I do agree that A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush means something slightly different, though definitely RELATED. ;) An example might be: Pocket your winnings, no matter how little, and WALK AWAY from the black jack table/craps table while you are ahead!
    And... I think
    a- Más vale viejo por conocido que nuevo por conocer
    is slightly different from
    b- Más vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer.
    a--- maybe it's better to stick with something/someone you already know well even if it/she/he has flaws because the NEW one might end up having even more flaws (then again, maybe not?).
    b----could be that you are continuing to live with a person who is really bad because it somehow feels more comfortable than getting to know someone brand new.

    Yes, they have same idea, but all the options offered can have slightly different applications, if you will.


    New Member
    New Jersey, USA - Spanish
    The correct translation is:

    < Previous | Next >