I am trying to remember an idiom that is used when someone has a premonition about something, often coincidentally i.e. I am thinking about someone and then they call me. I know there is the expression: speak of the devil, but I think there is another less-commonly used idiom which can be more broadly applied. As I remember it is also not used directly like speak of the devil but more to say someone has summoned someone/something else.

EDIT: Apparently speak of the devil is not used in a negative sense. Thanks user240918 for the correction.

  • 2
    “Speak of the devil” has no negative connotation. macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/…
    – user 66974
    Oct 2, 2018 at 11:06
  • Learn something new everyday. Thanks! Have updated the original post.
    – Neal
    Oct 2, 2018 at 11:12
  • @user240918 It sure feels negative if you're the one they're talking about.
    – Mitch
    Oct 2, 2018 at 11:21
  • 'Precognition' is a sci-fi word for seeing into the future. It's not an actual thing.
    – Mitch
    Oct 2, 2018 at 11:23
  • Ok. Yeah was thinking like ESP from star trek, but I agree with your edit. Am not looking for a scifi idiom - though not sure if one would exist.
    – Neal
    Oct 2, 2018 at 11:26

4 Answers 4


I found another often used phrase that can be considered an idiom. You could use the idiom "sixth sense". It is often used to describe a mysterious, coincidental ability that goes beyond the usual five senses. Having premonitions is frequently the case with this ability. Here is an example.

She said "maybe you'll get a call"... and Wow! Suddenly the phone rang... Can you believe it? She sure does have a sixth sense at times.



Ears are burning is probably what you are looking for:

— used to say that someone has the feeling that other people are talking about him or her.


  • Thanks. Was looking for an expression that is more commonly used in third person. Like Bob summoned Joe by __.
    – Neal
    Oct 2, 2018 at 11:18
  • 1
    @NealKornreich - If you have a sentence you want the phrase to fit into, edit that phrase into your question.
    – AndyT
    Oct 3, 2018 at 7:51

The word premonition itself is usually (but not always) associated with foreseeing a negative event.


You could use the idiom "writing on the wall"to describe such a mysterious, coincidental, precognitive event. Here is an example.

She said "maybe you'll get a call"... and Wow! Suddenly the phone rings.... She sure can see the writing on the wall sometimes.


You might consider, speak of angels and you hear the rustle of their wings; also: speak of angels and you hear rustling of their wings; speak of the angels and you will hear their wings rustle; speak of an angel, hear the rustle of its wing; speak of an angel and you can hear bats' wings flutter.

As we have said in the previous chapter, the general public is gradually awakening to the knowledge of the reality of Mental Transference, and it is scarcely necessary to devote the time and space to a proof of the reality of the phenomena in these days, although a few years ago a work on the subject would have had to be composed principally of evidences and proofs. But, nevertheless, it may be well for us to take a hasty look at the nature of the proof in this work.

Nearly everyone has had evidence of Mind Reading or Thought Transference in his or her own life. Nearly everyone has had experiences of being in a persons company when one of the two would make a remark and the other somewhat startled, would exclaim, "Why, that's just what I was going to say," or words to that effect. Nearly everyone has had experiences of knowing what a second person was going to say before the person spoke. And, likewise common is the experience of thinking of a person a few moments before the person came into sight. Many of us have suddenly found ourselves thinking of a person who had been out of our minds for months, or years, when all of a sudden the person himself would appear. These instances are so common as to be generally recognized without question. These occurrences have given rise to the two common "sayings," viz., "Speak of the devil and his imps appear," or "Speak of angels and you hear the rustle of their wings."


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.