Specifically, I'm looking for something that would fit in the same situation, but I need a less negative connotation. Saying that when my Dad, for instance, walks into the room while I'm talking about him, well, that sort of seems to imply I think he's the devil.

Naturally, any help or criticism of my question is welcome. I can't improve if I don't know something's wrong.

  • 3
    This may just be a personal thing but I use it all the time and the idiomatic use of it never seems to have the negative connotations, particularly if you say it with a genuine smile. :D
    – Catija
    May 22, 2015 at 18:40
  • 1
    The expression's literal translation is also present in Hindi. For the positive turn, we use a different expression- (We were just talking about you, therefore:) you're gonna live a long life.
    – Tushar Raj
    May 22, 2015 at 18:41
  • My grandfather often said "speak of the devil and in he walks" if someone who was a recent topic of discussion arrived.
    – Davo
    Nov 1, 2017 at 11:58
  • @Catija that's a reasonable point, and is probably a contributing factor to why I'm able to use this expression with my dad. I just want something more appropriate to say in general usage or with someone that I don't want to take a chance of them misunderstanding. So Jeff's answer is pretty good. Just wish I got more responses; maybe I accepted his answer to soon? Nov 30, 2018 at 21:54

2 Answers 2


Not a direct replacement, but something you might say to your Dad when he comes in: "Were your ears burning?" See Origin of burning ears if you are not familiar with the expression.


Its so much better in Spanish. What you say is "Speaking of the King of Rome, and there he comes!"

  • 1
    Is that used in English? Many languages have similar sayings, but we don't use the direct translations for the expression. Please include a source and do take a moment to see the help center.
    – livresque
    Jul 12, 2022 at 22:51

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