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

One of these plants was known as chase devil in ancient times, but now is more commonly known as St. John’s wort. Weldon Johnson, azcentral, "Summer solstice 2018 is June 21. Here's why the day is a big deal," 19 June 2018 Yet why not play devil’s advocate here for a moment and wonder if FIFA is on to something? Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "No one cares about the pointless World Cup bronze playoff. So FIFA should scrap it," 12 July 2018 Cash’s shoulders are stooped with the weight of his angel, Detroit, on one side and Lift, the devil CEO, on the other, and Stanfield, one senses, is sizing up stardom with the same hungry, humorous, haunted eyes. Ty Burr,, "Why we should be thankful for ‘Sorry to Bother You’," 11 July 2018 Alamo told his followers that his protracted battle with the IRS was really a war against the devil., "How Brutal Cult Leader Tony Alamo Amassed A Fortune With Bedazzled Denim Jackets," 29 June 2018 Angel food cake is the white cake, but the devils food cake is chocolate. Alex Fitzpatrick, Time, "Trump Says He Might Pardon Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali. What Did Ali Do?," 8 June 2018 Twitter is accused of not giving the devil his due. NBC News, "The Satanic Temple claims it's having a devil of a time with Twitter," 30 May 2018 However, that doesn't mean that these devils are only interested in money or status. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "What Your Zodiac Sign Says About Your Online Dating Style," 6 July 2018 Gomez was spotted in New York having traded her sometimes supremely polished, sometimes insouciant chop for ironed and elongated lengths primed for devil-may-care hair flips. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Selena Gomez’s Latest Hair Transformation Is Proof She’s Just Fine, Thank You," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Spur, in the lower level of Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa, is a lively spot that skews toward a professional crowd and serves a damn good deviled egg. Alex Postman, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Jackson Hole Is the Perfect Ski Town," 21 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

12 Oct 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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