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[dee-muh n] /ˈdi mən/
an evil spirit; devil or fiend.
an evil passion or influence.
a person considered extremely wicked, evil, or cruel.
a person with great energy, drive, etc.:
He's a demon for work.
a person, especially a child, who is very mischievous:
His younger son is a real little demon.
Australian Slang. a policeman, especially a detective.
of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or noting a demon.
possessed or controlled by a demon.
Origin of demon
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin daemonium < Greek daimónion, thing of divine nature (in Jewish and Christian writers, evil spirit), neuter of daimónios, derivative of daímōn; (def 6) < Latin; see daemon


variant of demono- before a vowel:
demonism. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for demon
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The painter can accumulate ugliness, but I do not remember a demon worth the name.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Truly a demon had possessed him: might not an angel have been by him as he slept?

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • All that fiendish cruelty and the demon of destruction could do was done.

    The Roof of France Matilda Betham-Edwards
  • Diablo was cutting down the lead the other two held over him, galloping like a demon.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • With your lying tongue you have changed her into a demon to persecute me!

    Green Mansions W. H. Hudson
British Dictionary definitions for demon


an evil spirit or devil
a person, habit, obsession, etc, thought of as evil, cruel, or persistently tormenting
Also called daemon, daimon. an attendant or ministering spirit; genius: the demon of inspiration
  1. a person who is extremely skilful in, energetic at, or devoted to a given activity, esp a sport: a demon at cycling
  2. (as modifier): a demon cyclist
a variant spelling of daemon (sense 1)
(Austral & NZ, informal, archaic) a detective or policeman
(computing) a part of a computer program, such as a help facility, that can run in the background behind the current task or application, and which will only begin to work when certain conditions are met or when it is specifically invoked
Word Origin
C15: from Latin daemōn evil spirit, spirit, from Greek daimōn spirit, deity, fate; see daemon
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for demon

c.1200, from Latin daemon "spirit," from Greek daimon "deity, divine power; lesser god; guiding spirit, tutelary deity" (sometimes including souls of the dead); "one's genius, lot, or fortune;" from PIE *dai-mon- "divider, provider" (of fortunes or destinies), from root *da- "to divide" (see tide).

Used (with daimonion) in Christian Greek translations and Vulgate for "god of the heathen" and "unclean spirit." Jewish authors earlier had employed the Greek word in this sense, using it to render shedim "lords, idols" in the Septuagint, and Matt. viii:31 has daimones, translated as deofol in Old English, feend or deuil in Middle English. Another Old English word for this was hellcniht, literally "hell-knight."

The original mythological sense is sometimes written daemon for purposes of distinction. The Demon of Socrates was a daimonion, a "divine principle or inward oracle." His accusers, and later the Church Fathers, however, represented this otherwise. The Demon Star (1895) is Algol.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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