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


cacodemonic, demoniac (also demoniacal), demonian, demonic (also demonical), devilish, fiendish, Luciferian, satanic


angelic (or angelical)

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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

Earlier this year, Reid claimed homophobic and other hateful posts on her pre-fame blog were planted by diabolical hackers. Brian Flood, Fox News, "MSNBC star Joy Reid sued by Trump supporter for defamation," 26 Sep. 2018 He's been far from diabolical, but there have been times where John Egan has looked uncomfortable and uncertain at the back. SI.com, "Sheffield United Premier League Month in Review: August - Best Player, Worst Performance & More," 8 Sep. 2019 While the other players were already making plans for life in the house without Dan, inside the solitary confinement room, a diabolical scheme was beginning to take shape. Dalton Ross, EW.com, "Dan's funeral: An oral history of the greatest Big Brother moment ever," 29 Aug. 2019 Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other armed supervillains unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker launches an evil agenda of his own. (PG-13) 2 hrs. Los Angeles Times, "Here are the feature and TV films airing the week of Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019," 11 Aug. 2019 Such an idea, orthodox and even tedious for the past fifty years, was thought in the seventeenth century to be diabolical. John Lanchester, The New Yorker, "The Invention of Money," 29 July 2019 Making the theory even more diabolical is that Clippers consultant Jerry West is an all-time Lakers great — a Hall of Famer and great executive for decades with the Lakers — and his son, Ryan, is the Lakers’ director of player personnel. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Kawhi Leonard conspiracy theory only heightens Lakers-Clippers intrigue," 7 July 2019 In the season 4 finale, her diabolical brother Lex (Jon Cryer) revealed that her best friend Kara is Supergirl, and Lena’s still reeling from that bombshell when the series returns on Oct. 6. Chancellor Agard, EW.com, "Supergirl star Melissa Benoist teases 'fight for Lena's soul' in season 5," 17 July 2019 Now the diabolical series, which premiered in 2014, has introduced a new element to the equation. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "The Slow, Messy Evolution of LGBTQ Dating Shows," 4 July 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

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

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Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

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

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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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Comments on diabolical

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


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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