- n. & v.
1 (usu. the Devil) (in Christian and Jewish belief) the supreme spirit of evil; Satan.
2 a an evil spirit; a demon; a superhuman malignant being. b a personified evil force or attribute.
3 a a wicked or cruel person. b a mischievously energetic, clever, or self-willed person.
4 colloq. a person, a fellow (lucky devil).
5 fighting spirit, mischievousness (the devil is in him tonight).
6 colloq. something difficult or awkward (this door is a devil to open).
7 (the devil or the Devil) colloq. used as an exclamation of surprise or annoyance (who the devil are you?).
8 a literary hack exploited by an employer.
9 Brit. a junior legal counsel.
10 = Tasmanian devil.
11 applied to various instruments and machines, esp. when used for destructive work.
12 S.Afr. = dust devil.
—v. (devilled, devilling; US deviled, deviling)
1 tr. cook (food) with hot seasoning.
2 intr. act as a devil for an author or barrister.
3 tr. US harass, worry.
Phrases and idioms:
between the devil and the deep blue sea in a dilemma. devil-may-care cheerful and reckless. a devil of colloq. a considerable, difficult, or remarkable. devil a one not even one. devil ray any cartilaginous fish of the family Mobulidae, esp. the manta. devil's advocate a person who tests a proposition by arguing against it. devil's bit any of various plants whose roots look bitten off, esp. a kind of scabious (Succisa pratensis). devil's coach-horse Brit. a large rove-beetle, Staphylinus olens. devil's darning-needle a dragonfly or damselfly. devil's dozen thirteen. devils-on-horseback a savoury of prune or plum wrapped in slices of bacon. devil's own colloq. very difficult or unusual (the devil's own job). devil take the hindmost a motto of selfish competition. the devil to pay trouble to be expected. go to the devil
1 be damned.
2 (in imper.) depart at once. like the devil with great energy. play the devil with cause severe damage to. printer's devil hist. an errand-boy in a printing office. speak (or talk) of the devil said when a person appears just after being mentioned. the very devil (predic.) colloq. a great difficulty or nuisance.
Etymology: OE deofol f. LL diabolus f. Gk diabolos accuser, slanderer f. dia across + ballo to throw
Useful english dictionary. 2012.