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From Middle English devil, devel, deovel, from Old English dēofol, dēoful, from earlier dīobul ‎(devil), ultimately from Ancient Greek διάβολος ‎(diábolos, accuser, slanderer), also as "Satan" (in Jewish/Christian usage, translating Biblical Hebrew שטן, satán), from διαβάλλω ‎(diabállō, to slander), literally “to throw across”, from διά ‎(diá, through, across) + βάλλω ‎(bállō, throw). The Old English word was probably adopted under influence of Latin diabolus (itself from the Greek). Other Germanic languages adopted the word independently: compare Saterland Frisian Düüwel ‎(devil), West Frisian duvel ‎(devil), Dutch duivel ‎(devil), Low German Düvel ‎(devil), German Teufel ‎(devil), Danish djævel ‎(devil), Swedish djävul ‎(devil) (older: djefvul, Old Swedish diævul, Old Norse djǫfull).



devil ‎(plural devils)

  1. (theology) A creature of hell.
  2. (theology) (the devil or the Devil) The chief devil; Satan.
  3. The bad part of the conscience; the opposite to the angel.
    • The devil in me wants to let him suffer.
  4. A wicked or naughty person, or one who harbors reckless, spirited energy, especially in a mischievous way; usually said of a young child.
    • Those two kids are devils in a toy store.
  5. A thing that is awkward or difficult to understand or do.
    • That math problem was a devil.
  6. (euphemistically, with an article, as an intensifier) Hell.
    • What in the devil is that? What the devil is that?
    • She is having a devil of a time fixing it.
    • You can go to the devil for all I care.
  7. A person, especially a man; used to express a particular opinion of him, usually in the phrases poor devil and lucky devil.
  8. A dust devil.
  9. (religion, Christian Science) An evil or erring entity.
  10. (dialectal, in compounds) A barren, unproductive and unused area.[1][2]
    devil strip
  11. (cooking) A dish, as a bone with the meat, broiled and excessively peppered; a grill with Cayenne pepper.
    • Sir Walter Scott
      Men and women busy in baking, broiling, roasting oysters, and preparing devils on the gridiron.
  12. A machine for tearing or cutting rags, cotton, etc.
  13. A Tasmanian devil.
    • 2008, Joyce L. Markovics, Tasmanian Devil: Nighttime Scavenger (page 8)
      The stories told by Harris and the other settlers only made people more afraid of the devils. In the 1800s, for example, workers at a wool company were scared that the devils would attack their sheep.
  14. (cycling, slang) An endurance event where riders who fall behind are periodically eliminated.



Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


devil ‎(third-person singular simple present devils, present participle deviling or devilling, simple past and past participle deviled or devilled)

  1. To make like a devil; to invest with the character of a devil.
  2. To annoy or bother; to bedevil.
  3. To work as a ‘devil’; to work for a lawyer or writer without fee or recognition.
    • 1978, Lawrence Durrell, Livia, Faber & Faber 1992 (Avignon Quintet), page 401:
      He did not repeat the scathing estimate of her character by Quatrefages, who at that time spent one afternoon a week devilling at the Consulate, keeping the petty-cash box in order.
  4. To grill with cayenne pepper; to season highly in cooking, as with pepper.
  5. To finely grind cooked ham or other meat with spices and condiments.
  6. To prepare a sidedish of shelled halved boiled eggs to whose extracted yolks are added condiments and spices, which mixture then is placed into the halved whites to be served.
    • She's going to devil four dozen eggs for the picnic.

Usage notes[edit]

  • UK usage doubles the l in the inflected forms "devilled" and "devilling"; US usage generally does not.


Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dictionary of Regional American English
  2. ^ Word Detective: Tales from the berm