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 Once the stakes are established and Leya is faced with her near-classical conundrum—her deal with the devil—the show becomes thoroughly engrossing. John Anderson, WSJ, "‘Snabba Cash’ Review: Easy Money Is Hard to Come By," 6 Apr. 2021 Or, to play my own devil’s advocate against my own idea, maybe having cool kids with whom the freaks would butt heads would be counterintuitive. Roxana Hadadi, Vulture, "Freaks and Geeks Throws McKinley High’s Social Rhythms Into Disarray," 4 Mar. 2021 Over several months, a group of young girls claiming to be possessed by the devil condemned a score of men and women to the gallows in one of history’s most infamous witch hunts. Gulnaz Khan, National Geographic, "These are the most haunted places in the United States," 31 Oct. 2020 One perennial challenge for modern-day exorcists is to determine if a person potentially possessed by the devil is in fact suffering problems better addressed by mental health professionals. David Crary, Star Tribune, "Exorcism: Increasingly frequent, including after US protests," 31 Oct. 2020 One perennial challenge for modern-day exorcists is to determine if a person potentially possessed by the devil is in fact suffering problems better addressed by mental health professionals. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Exorcism: Increasingly frequent, including after US protests," 31 Oct. 2020 This makes his devil’s bargain the rare Baker deal in which the master negotiator comes out the loser. New York Times, "The Incredible Influence of James A. Baker III," 25 Sep. 2020 Meanwhile, Chloe and the rest of the gang have to continue solving crimes and figure out a way to bring their favorite devil back. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Everything We Know About "Lucifer" Season 5, Part 2," 24 Aug. 2020 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 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

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

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

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