Where does the term “Go-Devil” come from and What does Go Devil mean?

We think our American male ancestors of a hundred-odd years ago took keen delight in playing with the word devil.

It sounded just short of a swear word, and probably annoyed their wives.

At least it is certain that farmers especially took to calling various mechanical implements which, in early stages of development, acted erratically or mysteriously, go-devils.

Or perhaps, through comparative speed, because they went “like the devil.”

How many of such were so called is now uncertain, but the name was early applied to corn cultivators, hay rakes, road scrapers, snow plows, logging sleds, and later in other fields to instruments for clearing pipes of obstructions, to explosive devices in oil-well drilling, to handcars, etc., etc.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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