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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On March 18, Tymofiy scribbled in red, with a drawing of a devil shooting sparks from its eyes. Isabel Coles, WSJ, 13 May 2022 In the Russian novel, the devil visits and wreaks marvelous havoc on Soviet Moscow. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2022 One was the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, where the platform has been used to spread troves of misinformation about masking, the origin of the virus, and whether the vaccine contains enzymes that turn its recipients into devil worshippers. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 9 May 2022 And there was some risk for a teacher who played devil’s advocate while editing. Peter Hessler, The New Yorker, 9 May 2022 If that doesn't sound particularly appetizing to parents periodically convinced their infants are out to get them, in this case, the devil seems to be in the details. Brian Lowry, CNN, 24 Apr. 2022 But the point of this argument is to play devil’s advocate. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, 18 Apr. 2022 Stranger Things season 4 as the storyline tackles the Satanic Panic, which stoked fears in the '80s and '90s and linked things like D&D to devil worship and the occult. Nick Romano, EW.com, 18 Apr. 2022 At the time, a parody video of the devil and a group of students inside a classroom, poking fun at the show and Christianity, was uploaded to the website. Timothy Fanning, San Antonio Express-News, 13 Apr. 2022 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, 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, 6 May 2020 Those eggs now can be transformed into egg salad and deviled eggs. oregonlive, 8 Apr. 2020 On the menu: Dragon’s Eggs (spicy deviled eggs) and Red Wedding cake, among other bites. Randi Stevenson, chicagotribune.com, 23 Aug. 2019 Drizzle each deviled egg with aioli and sprinkle with additional Sweet & Spicy Sriracha Lime seasoning. Danielle Pointdujour, Essence, 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, 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, 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, 24 June 2019 See More

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.

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

Learn More About devil

Time Traveler for devil

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near devil

deviceful

devil

devil's advocate

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for devil

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Devil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/devil. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for devil

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

More from Merriam-Webster on devil

Nglish: Translation of devil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of devil for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about devil

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!