devil

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

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 , ˈdev-​liŋ \

Definition of devil (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to season highly deviled eggs
2 : tease, annoy

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Future historians would argue if the famous rocket engineer was a victim of circumstance or a 20th-century Faust, making a deal with the devil in search for knowledge. Alex Hollings, Popular Mechanics, "The Saturn V Story: From Nazi Roots to America's Moon Rocket," 6 Feb. 2019 Benli can point out unique features the average tourist would miss—like the tortured faces of devils swirled into the green marble at Hagia Sophia. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Three Days In Istanbul," 28 Dec. 2018 Schierl literally appeared at a sales meeting in a devil’s mask. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "Disposable America," 21 June 2018 Tall Boy is put in his place, outvoted by the rest of the Serpents, and with FP's release from prison, everyone seems to be getting along decently well, that is, until Tall Boy makes a deal with the devil (aka Hiram Lodge). Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "OK, But Who The Heck is Tall Boy on "Riverdale"?," 24 Jan. 2019 Legend had it that the Plantagenet counts of Anjou—the originators of the dynasty—were descended from the devil, this accounting for their violent outbursts of temper. Allan Massie, WSJ, "‘The Restless Kings’ Review: A Family at War With Itself," 11 Jan. 2019 Back then, the pattern was widely associated with the devil and other unsavory characters like prostitutes, prisoners and clowns. Katharine K. Zarrella, WSJ, "To Make Stripes Feel Fresh, Layer Them Wantonly," 31 Jan. 2019 This season the devil did not rest, I was tested, time and time again. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "How All Your Favorite Celebrities Celebrated New Year's Eve 2018," 31 Dec. 2018 Thousands of singing and dancing devils take over the mountain town for six days of revelry in the streets. Kainaz Amaria, Vox, "2018, explained in pictures by women and non-binary photographers," 21 Dec. 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, NOLA.com, "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, chicagotribune.com, "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, baltimoresun.com, "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.

See More

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, 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about devil

Statistics for devil

Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for devil

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Britannica.com: 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).

WORD OF THE DAY

grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!