di·​a·​bol·​i·​cal | \ ˌdī-ə-ˈbä-li-kəl How to pronounce diabolical (audio) \
variants: or diabolic \ ˌdī-​ə-​ˈbä-​lik How to pronounce diabolical (audio) \

Definition of diabolical

: of, relating to, or characteristic of the devil : devilish a diabolical plot

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Other Words from diabolical

diabolically \ ˌdī-​ə-​ˈbä-​li-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce diabolical (audio) \ adverb
diabolicalness \ ˌdī-​ə-​ˈbä-​li-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce diabolical (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for diabolical



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Like the word devil, "diabolical" traces back to Latin diabolus, which itself descends from Greek diabolos, a word that literally means "slanderer." In English, "diabolical" has many nuances of meaning. It can describe the devil himself (as in "my diabolical visitor") or anything related to or characteristic of him in appearance, behavior, or thought; examples include "diabolical lore," "a diabolical grin," and "a diabolical plot." In British slang, "diabolical" can also mean "disgraceful" or "bad," as in "the food was diabolical."

Examples of diabolical in a Sentence

the police quickly mobilized to track down the diabolical serial killer
Recent Examples on the Web But where the update falters most in its attempt to bridge GG‘s diabolical past with its comparatively friendly present is in the casting. Judy Berman, Time, 5 July 2021 Freedom means being able to finally plant both feet on ground and territory that’s not the oppressive, restrictive, tyrannical, drab, depressing, sinister, diabolical, hostile, and treacherous prison ground. Vanessa Del Rio, Harper's BAZAAR, 28 June 2021 Thus begins a diabolical homage to the golden age of Broadway, in which the leads are cursed to find true love in order to escape. Chris Norris, Vulture, 23 June 2021 The staggering amount in advertising spent over the last 90 days has gone toward more than 2,300 Facebook advertisements — many of which promote the very hosts who describe the platform in diabolical terms. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 11 June 2021 Abbott, in a diabolical but deft move, vetoed a section of the budget that funds the Legislature. Dallas News, 28 June 2021 Slovakian number one Martin Dubravka had also blundered in diabolical fashion in the group stages. Samindra Kunti, Forbes, 28 June 2021 Subscribe to my diabolical Substack newsletter here and my fantastical Substack newsletter here. Erik Kain, Forbes, 22 June 2021 But the veneer of patient, disinterested inquiry cannot disguise Cézanne’s diabolical oddity. Washington Post, 15 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'diabolical.' 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 diabolical

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for diabolical

diabolical from diabolic + -ical; diabolic going back to Middle English deabolik, borrowed from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French dyabolique, borrowed from Late Latin diabolicus, borrowed from Late Greek diabolikós, going back to Greek, "slanderous," from diábolos "accuser, backbiter, slanderer" + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at devil entry 1

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The first known use of diabolical was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

18 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Diabolical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diabolical. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for diabolical



English Language Learners Definition of diabolical

: extremely evil
British, informal : very unpleasant, bad, or annoying


di·​a·​bol·​i·​cal | \ ˌdī-ə-ˈbä-li-kəl How to pronounce diabolical (audio) \
variants: or diabolic \ -​ˈbä-​lik \

Kids Definition of diabolical


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