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

Keep scrolling for more

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)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

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 Last campaign was another Pogba special, featuring periods of blistering form and diabolical displays in equal measure. SI.com, "Transfers Window: How 7 of Last Summer's Most Talked About Players Fared During the 2018/19 Season," 10 June 2019 Head counters will quickly grasp that with the addition of Evan, the group constitutes two subsets of five members, representing the insidious number that potentiates the Hisji, whose curse is particularly diabolical and deadly. Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Head Count': Film Review," 14 June 2019 But the first cannery on the river opened in 1866, and many more followed, fed by diabolical fish wheels that scooped millions of pounds of fish a year from the water. Sallie Tisdale, Harper's magazine, "Catechism of the Waters," 10 June 2019 The diabolical figurine was launched this weekend at a blōhsh pop-up store at Camden Staples in London, and will be available online May 31st. Tatum Dooley, Teen Vogue, "You Can Now Buy a Billie Eilish Doll, Courtesy of Takashi Murakami," 29 May 2019 Robby is built to demonstrate that Audi's suite of sensors and software is mature enough to take a fast car to its limits on a diabolical road course. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "I Raced a Self-Driving Audi To Defend Humanity's Honor," 17 Nov. 2015 The tech future we were promised was finally here: instant, real-time video conversations, just like the diabolical villains in every science fiction movie ever. Jason Gay, WSJ, "My Kids Are Lousy at Video Chat, But They Love to Hang Up on Me," 20 July 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about diabolical

Listen to Our Podcast about diabolical

Dictionary Entries near diabolical








Statistics for diabolical

Last Updated

22 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for diabolical

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on diabolical

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for diabolical

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).


marked by turns or indirection

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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