there will be the devil to pay

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there will be the devil to pay

There will be a huge amount of trouble (if a particular thing does/does not happen or is/is not done). There'll be the devil to pay if they catch us sneaking out this late at night! If you don't have that report finished by lunch, there will be the devil to pay!
See also: devil, pay, there, will

devil to pay, the

Serious trouble resulting from some action, as in There'll be the devil to pay if you let that dog out. This expression originally referred to trouble resulting from making a bargain with the devil, but later was broadened to apply to any sort of problem. A variant, the devil to pay and no pitch hot, first recorded in 1865, gave rise to the theory that the expression was originally nautical, since pay also means "to waterproof a seam by caulking it with pitch," and no pitch hot meant it was a particularly difficult job, since cold pitch is hard to use. However, the original expression is much older and is the one that survives. [c. 1400]
See also: devil
References in classic literature ?
You'll wake the cook, and there'll be the devil to pay for me.
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