diabolical

adjective di·a·bol·i·cal \ ˌdī-ə-ˈbä-li-kəl \
variants: or diabolic play \-ˈbä-lik\
Updated on: 8 Nov 2017

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


Learn More about diabolical


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up diabolical? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to buzz or drone

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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!