devil

noun
dev·​il | \ ˈde-vᵊl How to pronounce devil (audio) , 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

devil

verb
deviled or devilled; deviling or devilling\ ˈde-​və-​liŋ How to pronounce devil (audio) , 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

Noun 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 If that weren't enough, the fantastical video for the new song sees the rapper making out with the snake in the Garden of Eden, lap-dancing the devil, pole-dancing, and so much more. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "First Out: New Music From Lil Nas X, Brockhampton, Kim Petras & More," 26 Mar. 2021 And for decades, being an Asian American character actor seemed to simultaneously represent a ceiling and a devil’s bargain. Alison Willmore, Vulture, "What Was the Asian American Character Actor?," 26 Mar. 2021 She’s showing the audience, as Walter so often did, that the devil really does live in the details. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "How Jessica Walter Found the Soul in Mean Characters," 26 Mar. 2021 There were so many devil's advocates of why not to launch, specifically not being able to have guests nor a studio audience — two of the biggest components for a talk show. Rosy Cordero, EW.com, "Drew Barrymore on her and Cameron Diaz's breaks from acting: 'It's fun to just shift gears'," 18 Mar. 2021 Legend has it that Dio picked up the devil’s horn hand sign, which became his trademark, from you. Gary Graff, cleveland, "Geezer Butler talks Black Sabbath, ‘bucketloads of cocaine,’ Dio, grandkids & more," 17 Mar. 2021 The devil makes his entrance on a song that sounds a bit like Randy Newman writing funk. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, "From 'Love it to Death' to 'Detroit Stories': The best Alice Cooper albums ranked," 16 Mar. 2021 This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself. NBC News, "Meet the Press - March 14, 2021," 14 Mar. 2021 Pothos, or devil's ivy, is a super-easy vining plant. Arricca Elin Sansone, House Beautiful, "The Everything-You-Need-to-Know Guide to Buying Houseplants," 10 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Highlights include a variety of cheese, smoked salmon, prosciutto, deviled egg salad, biscuits, bagels and baguettes and cinnamon rolls. Los Angeles Times, "Where to order Mother’s Day takeout in Los Angeles and Orange County," 4 May 2020 For $60, the family-sized meal includes a savory galette, homemade brioche with plum jam and French butter, Bayonne ham and pickles, miso deviled eggs, fresh fruit and a spring salad with wine and Bloody Mary or mimosa kits available for extra. Michael Russell, oregonlive, "Where to find Mother’s Day brunch -- and more -- for takeout and delivery at home," 6 May 2020 Those eggs now can be transformed into egg salad and deviled eggs. oregonlive, "DIY Easter eggs: Don’t have a dye kit? You can make bold colors with produce and pantry staples," 8 Apr. 2020 On the menu: Dragon’s Eggs (spicy deviled eggs) and Red Wedding cake, among other bites. Randi Stevenson, chicagotribune.com, "George R.R. Martin’s former Chicago apartment is for sale — and of course the open house is ‘Game of Thrones’ inspired," 23 Aug. 2019 Drizzle each deviled egg with aioli and sprinkle with additional Sweet & Spicy Sriracha Lime seasoning. Danielle Pointdujour, Essence, "Create the Perfect NYE Party Menu With These Mouth-Watering Chef Approved Dishes," 26 Dec. 2019 The eggs — which were peeled, hard-boiled, and packaged in plastic pails of various sizes at the facility — may have been sold to food service operators and restaurants to make ready-to-eat dishes such as egg salad and deviled eggs. Gabrielle Chung, PEOPLE.com, "Packaged Hard-Boiled Eggs Linked to Deadly Listeria Outbreak Across 5 States, CDC Warns," 19 Dec. 2019 Usually there will be bagels and lox, tuna salad, egg salad or hard-cooked or deviled eggs, noodle kugel, some sort of vegetable like cole slaw or cucumber salad, fruit, and then small pastries like rugelach or mandel bread or the like for dessert. Stacey Ballis, chicagotribune.com, "Break the fast for Yom Kippur with mini noodle kugels and everything bagel salad," 2 Oct. 2019 The menu includes ratatouille with poached eggs and speck, deviled eggs with pork belly rillettes, and avocado toast with six-minute egg. Hadley Tomicki, latimes.com, "Tacos 1986 opens in DTLA; Goat Mafia drops in on Echo Park," 24 June 2019

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

Noun

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

Verb

1787, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for devil

Noun

Middle English devel, del, dule, going back to Old English dēofol, dīoful, going back to West Germanic *diuvul- (whence also Old Frisian diūvel, diōvel, Old Saxon diuƀal, Middle Dutch duvel, Old High German tiuval, tiufal), probably borrowed from an early Romance outcome of Late Latin diabolus "the Devil," borrowed from Greek diábolos (New Testament, Septuagint, as a rendering of Hebrew śāṭān satan), earlier, "accuser, backbiter, slanderer," agentive derivative of diabállein "to take across, put through, set at variance, attack (a person's character), accuse, slander," from dia- dia- + bállō, bállein "to reach by throwing, let fly, strike, put, place," going back to earlier *gwəl-n-ō or *gwəl-i̯-ō, perhaps going back to an Indo-European base *gwelh1-

Note: The standard English pronunciation of devil with the outcome of a short vowel presumably reflects shortening of the Old English dipththong -ēo-/-īo- in syncopated forms, as the nominative plural dēoflas. The early Modern English form divel (as in Shakespeare), preserved in regional and dialectal speech in both Britain and the U.S., shows Middle English shortening of original ẹ̄ to i. Forms such as Middle English dele and early Scots dele show loss of v before a syllable ending in a liquid. — Greek bállein and its many prefixed forms are rich in nominal derivatives, usually with o-grade (as in diábolos, perhaps secondarily agentive, after the adjective diábolos "slanderous, backbiting") or with zero grade blē- (going back to *gwl̥h1-C-). That the original consonant was a labiovelar is assured by the Arcadian form esdellō, with e-grade, corresponding to Greek ekballō "expel, let fall." Despite its thoroughly Indo-European formal properties, bállein has no certain cognates outside Greek.

Verb

derivative of devil entry 1

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Time Traveler for devil

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for devil

Last Updated

30 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Devil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/devil. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for devil

devil

noun

English Language Learners Definition of 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

devil

noun
dev·​il | \ ˈde-vəl How to pronounce devil (audio) \

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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