dev·​il | \ˈde-vᵊl, dialectal ˈdi- \

Definition of devil 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 often capitalized : the personal supreme spirit of evil often represented in Christian belief as the tempter of humankind, the leader of all apostate angels, and the ruler of hell usually used with the often used as an interjection, an intensive, or a generalized term of abuse what the devil is this?the devil you say!

2 : an evil spirit : demon

3a : an extremely wicked person : fiend

b archaic : a great evil

4 : a person of notable energy, recklessness, and dashing spirit also : one who is mischievous those kids are little devils today

5 : fellow usually used in the phrases poor devil, lucky devil

6a : something very trying or provoking having a devil of a time with this problem

b : severe criticism or rebuke : hell used with the I'll probably catch the devil for this

c : the difficult, deceptive, or problematic part of something the devil is in the details

8 Christian Science : the opposite of Truth : a belief in sin, sickness, and death : evil, error

between the devil and the deep blue sea

: faced with two equally objectionable alternatives

devil to pay

: severe consequences used with the there'll be the devil to pay if we're late


deviled or devilled; deviling or devilling\ˈde-​və-​liŋ, ˈdev-​liŋ \

Definition of devil (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to season highly deviled eggs

2 : tease, annoy

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Examples of devil in a Sentence


She is a tricky devil, so be careful. Those kids can be little devils sometimes. He's such a lucky devil that he'll probably win the lottery someday.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But like a good devil that greets you with puppies and all things great in this world. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "People Swear By This Green Tea Mattress On Amazon," 18 Oct. 2018 But the Roman logic was more sound than a random fear: allegedly, witches in those times gathered in groups of 12, and a 13th member was believed to be the devil. Lily Puckett, Teen Vogue, "8 Origins, Myths, and Superstitions That Explain Friday the 13th," 12 July 2018 And on the other side is a devil who is pulling the tree to an area where all your friends probably are ending up. Deborah Martin, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio Museum of Art takes a trip to ‘San Antonio 1718’," 15 Feb. 2018 Those first three weeks were a devil of a schedule. David Murphy,, "A doubter's mea culpa: Dear Eagles, we were wrong | David Murphy," 23 Jan. 2018 Trump was always a devil’s bargain for most evangelicals. Erick Erickson, Washington Post, "A word too far? Some evangelicals may have reached the breaking point with Trump.," 19 Jan. 2018 That roughly translates to: The same person that falls into the mouth of the devil is the same person who can get himself out. Glamour, "The March for Our Lives Activists: Yes, You Can Become an Activist on Your Own Terms," 11 Nov. 2018 And so, the devil is in the details there.’’ Three of the five council members rejecting Hansen’s plan would mention Silver’s comments in explaining their decision. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "Why the Seattle City Council voted in favor of KeyArena but not Chris Hansen’s Sodo project," 25 Sep. 2018 In a series of stories beginning in February 2017, AP has cited dozens of former members who said congregants were regularly punched and choked in an effort to beat out devils. Mitch Weiss And Holbrook Mohr, Fox News, "Church says candidate trespassed, but he says he was invited," 3 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Over time the bar became a restaurant where regulars would return day after day for a table d'hôte menu that might include boiled beef, jambalaya and deviled eggs in spicy remoulade sauce. Todd A. Price,, "Do you remember Maylie's? A lost New Orleans restaurant," 9 May 2018 The current menu includes samosas, curried Scotch egg, saag paneer pizza, chutney deviled eggs and peanut chicken tikka among its pub bites. Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle, "Queen Vic Pub to shutter mid-July," 6 July 2018 Buffalo deviled eggs, with Frank’s Hot Sauce and crumbled blue cheese. Ann Friedman, The Cut, "Not Everything Is a Side Hustle," 11 Jan. 2018 Top each deviled egg with a pickled shrimp and a sprig of fresh dill. Carrie Purcell, Country Living, "Deviled Eggs with Old Bay Shrimp," 4 Mar. 2014 Her deviled egg taco with beet greens salsa verde in a beet and corn tortilla is rightfully famous. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "10 women who are absolutely killing it at Indianapolis restaurants," 7 Mar. 2018 Stray from the classic and try making bacon cheddar deviled eggs. Katie Workman, Detroit Free Press, "Recipe: No one can resist the temptation of classic deviled eggs," 31 Mar. 2018 Bernie’s Lunch & Supper: Brunch specials include pimiento-cheese deviled eggs, Scotch egg in the hole, fried ham chop and chocolate pot de creme. Grace Wong,, "50-plus Easter brunch spots in Chicago and suburbs," 20 Mar. 2018 The version here, which Morton previously featured at Bookmakers, is cheeseburger deviled eggs. Tim Smith,, "Interesting menu, enjoyable view at Ampersea," 22 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'devil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of devil


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1787, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for devil


Middle English devel, from Old English dēofol, from Late Latin diabolus, from Greek diabolos, literally, slanderer, from diaballein to throw across, slander, from dia- + ballein to throw; probably akin to Sanskrit gurate he lifts up

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Statistics for devil

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for devil

The first known use of devil was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for devil



English Language Learners Definition of devil

the Devil : the most powerful spirit of evil in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam who is often represented as the ruler of hell

: an evil spirit

: a person who does bad things or causes trouble usually in a way that is not too serious


dev·​il | \ˈde-vəl \

Kids Definition of devil

1 often capitalized : the most powerful spirit of evil

2 : an evil spirit : demon, fiend

3 : a wicked or cruel person

4 : an attractive, mischievous, or unfortunate person a handsome devil poor devils

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More from Merriam-Webster on devil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with devil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for devil

Spanish Central: Translation of devil

Nglish: Translation of devil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of devil for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about devil

Comments on devil

What made you want to look up devil? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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