Etymology: Middle English devel, from Old English dēofol, from Late Latin diabolus, from Greek diabolos, literally, slanderer, from diaballein to throw across, slander, from dia- + ballein to throw; probably akin to Sanskrit gurate he lifts up
Date: before 12th century
1. often capitalized the personal supreme spirit of evil often represented in Jewish and Christian belief as the tempter of mankind, the leader of all apostate angels, and the ruler of hell — usually used with the; often used as an interjection, an intensive, or a generalized term of abuse <what the devil is this?> <the devil you say!> 2. an evil spirit ; demon 3. a. an extremely wicked person ; fiend b. archaic a great evil 4. a person of notable energy, recklessness, and dashing spirit; also one who is mischievous <those kids are little devils today> 5. fellow — usually used in the phrases poor devil, lucky devil 6. a. something very trying or provoking <having a devil of a time with this problem> b. severe criticism or rebuke ; hell — used with the <I'll probably catch the devil for this> c. the difficult, deceptive, or problematic part of something <the devil is in the details> 7. dust devil 8. Christian Science the opposite of Truth ; a belief in sin, sickness, and death ; evil, error II. transitive verb (-iled or -illed; -iling or devilling) Date: 1800 1. to season highly <deviled eggs> 2. tease, annoy
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.