Understanding the Idiom: "like a demon" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English

When we hear someone say “like a demon,” what do they mean? This idiom is often used to describe someone who is doing something with an intense amount of energy, speed, or enthusiasm. It can be used in various contexts, from describing a person’s work ethic to their physical abilities.

The Origins of “Like a Demon”

The phrase “like a demon” dates back to ancient times when demons were believed to possess supernatural powers. In many cultures, demons were associated with chaos and destruction but also with strength and power. Over time, the phrase became more commonly associated with speed and intensity rather than supernatural abilities.

Usage Examples

Here are some examples of how “like a demon” can be used in everyday conversation:

  • She ran like a demon to catch the bus.
  • The chef was cooking like a demon all night long.
  • He worked on his project like a demon until it was finished.

As you can see from these examples, “like a demon” is often used to emphasize someone’s hard work or determination. It can also be used humorously or sarcastically depending on the context.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “like a demon”

The idiom “like a demon” is commonly used to describe someone who is doing something with great intensity or energy. However, the origins of this phrase are not entirely clear. Some suggest that it may have originated from religious beliefs about demons being powerful and relentless beings. Others believe that it may have come from folklore about demons possessing people and causing them to act in unusual ways.

Regardless of its origins, the use of this phrase has been documented throughout history in various forms. For example, Shakespeare used a similar phrase in his play “Macbeth,” where he wrote, “I’ll fight till from my bones my flesh be hacked / Give me my armor.” This suggests that even centuries ago, people understood the concept of fighting like a demon.

In more recent times, the idiom has become popularized through literature and media. It can be found in books, movies, and music lyrics as a way to convey intense emotion or action. Additionally, it has become part of everyday language for many English speakers around the world.

To better understand the historical context of this idiom, we can look at how it has been used in different cultures over time. For example, some Native American tribes believed in spiritual beings called “skinwalkers” who could transform into animals and possess humans. These skinwalkers were often associated with demonic powers and were feared by many.

Similarly, in European folklore, there are numerous stories about demons possessing individuals and causing them to behave erratically or violently. These tales often served as cautionary tales about the dangers of giving into temptation or evil influences.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “like a demon”

Variations of “like a demon”

One common variation of this idiom is “work like a demon”, which implies working very hard or tirelessly towards achieving something. Another variation is “fight like a demon”, which suggests fighting with great intensity or ferocity. Additionally, one might say someone is “driving like a demon” if they are driving recklessly or dangerously fast.

Usage Examples

Here are some examples of how this idiom can be used in everyday conversation:

– She’s been studying for hours, working like a demon to prepare for her exam.

– The team fought like demons on the field, determined to win the championship.

– He was driving like a demon down the highway, weaving in and out of traffic.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “like a demon”


  • Like crazy
  • With fervor
  • At breakneck speed
  • With great intensity
  • In overdrive mode


  • Slowly and steadily
  • Lackadaisically
  • Calmly and methodically
  • In a relaxed manner
  • Taking it easy

Cultural Insights:

The phrase “like a demon” is often associated with hard work or intense effort. In Western cultures, this can be seen as admirable traits. However, in some Eastern cultures, such behavior may be viewed as excessive or even unhealthy. It’s important to consider cultural context when using idioms like these.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “like a demon”

Exercise 1: Fill in the Blank

In this exercise, you will be given a sentence with a blank space where the idiom “like a demon” should be inserted. Choose the correct form of the idiom from the options provided.

Sentence Possible Answers
The athlete ran ________ during the marathon. a) like crazy b) like an angel c) like a demon d) like a snail
The chef chopped vegetables ________ while preparing dinner. a) slowly b) quickly c) carefully d) messily e) like a demon
The student studied ___________ before her final exam. a) sporadically b) half-heartedly c) intensely d) lazily e )like a demon

Exercise 2: Conversation Practice

In this exercise, you will practice using “like a demon” in conversation with another person. Find someone to talk to and choose one of these topics:

  • Your favorite hobby or activity (e.g. playing guitar, running)
  • A task or project you recently completed (e.g. cleaning your room, finishing a work assignment)

During the conversation, try to use “like a demon” at least once in reference to the topic you have chosen. For example:

“I’ve been practicing guitar like a demon lately.”

After the conversation, reflect on how comfortable you felt using the idiom and whether or not it felt natural.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “like a demon”

When using idioms, it’s important to understand their meaning and usage in context. The idiom “like a demon” is often used to describe someone who is doing something with great intensity or speed. However, there are some common mistakes that people make when using this idiom.

Firstly, it’s important not to use this idiom in inappropriate situations. For example, saying “I ate my breakfast like a demon” may be seen as insensitive or offensive as it trivializes serious issues such as mental health disorders.

Secondly, it’s important not to overuse this idiom. While it can be effective in certain contexts, using it too frequently can make your speech or writing sound repetitive and unoriginal.

Thirdly, avoid using this idiom if you’re unsure of its meaning or origin. It’s always better to research an idiom before using it so that you don’t accidentally offend someone or misuse the phrase.


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