diabolical

adjective di·a·bol·i·cal \ ˌdī-ə-ˈbä-li-kəl \
variants: or diabolic play \-ˈbä-lik\
Updated on: 8 Jan 2018

Definition of diabolical

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

diabolically

play \-li-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

diabolicalness

play \-li-kəl-nəs\ noun

diabolical was our Word of the Day on 10/19/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of diabolical in a Sentence

  1. the police quickly mobilized to track down the diabolical serial killer

Recent Examples of diabolical from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of diabolical

Middle English deabolik, from Middle French diabolique, from Late Latin diabolicus, from diabolus — see 1devil

DIABOLICAL Defined for English Language Learners

diabolical

adjective

Definition of diabolical for English Language Learners

  • : extremely evil

  • : very unpleasant, bad, or annoying


DIABOLICAL Defined for Kids

diabolical

adjective di·a·bol·i·cal \ ˌdī-ə-ˈbä-li-kəl \
variants: or diabolic \-ˈbä-lik\

Definition of diabolical for Students

: devilish 1

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