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

Synonyms & Antonyms for diabolical



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Did You Know?

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 The new season will see Wynonna taking on her most diabolical enemy yet, with the Earp family curse finally broken but also without her trusty gun Peacemaker. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "Wynonna Earp season 4 finally has a premiere date — and a trailer," 26 June 2020 No one suggests that Mengele’s twin or eye-color research was of lasting value, despite its diabolical origins. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "Revisiting Mengele’s Malignant “Race Science”," 15 June 2020 What will ultimately happen to the four cops responsible for Floyd’s killing will likely hinge on the legal nuance of whether they are found to have acted out of vile malice, or mere diabolical impunity. J.c. Hallman, The New Republic, "Minneapolis in the Aftermath," 4 June 2020 This wasn’t the fraud perpetrated by sprinters Ben Johnson or Marion Jones, as diabolical and awful as their doping and lies were. Christine Brennan, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Enough is enough. Let this be the end of Lance Armstrong's story," 25 May 2020 Many of them were unscrupulous, stubborn, even diabolical. Washington Post, "Kirk Douglas, whose masculine energy powered scores of film roles, dies at 103," 6 Feb. 2020 The theories go as far as accusing Gates of profiting from the pandemic and hoarding a vaccine in a diabolical attempt to control the world’s population. Arluther Lee, ajc, "Social media giants struggle to contain viral ‘Plandemic’ conspiracy theory," 9 May 2020 In the 1960s, characters on Gilligan’s Island and in the movie The Manchurian Candidate were forced into funny or diabolical deeds through hypnosis. Dallas Morning News, "Texas law enforcement uses hypnosis to investigate crimes. Does it uncover the truth?," 8 Apr. 2020 Road warriors The person who put together the schedule for Olmsted Falls can only be referred to as a diabolical genius. Joe Magill, cleveland, "Girls basketball: Big weekend showcase at Garfield Heights; 9 highest-ranked Top 25 teams hold their spots," 17 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for diabolical

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

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Last Updated

5 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Diabolical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diabolical. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for diabolical


How to pronounce diabolical (audio)

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 \

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