[bih-dev-uh l]

verb (used with object), be·dev·iled, be·dev·il·ing or (especially British) be·dev·illed, be·dev·il·ling.

to torment or harass maliciously or diabolically, as with doubts, distractions, or worries.
to possess, as with a devil; bewitch.
to cause confusion or doubt in; muddle; confound: an issue bedeviled by prejudices.
to beset or hamper continuously: a new building bedeviled by elevator failures.

Origin of bedevil

First recorded in 1760–70; be- + devil
Related formsbe·dev·il·ment, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bedevil

Contemporary Examples of bedevil

  • Matthew Yglesias on how President Obama can woo back liberals, bedevil the GOP—and change the outcome this fall.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How to Win 2010

    Matthew Yglesias

    January 10, 2010

  • And the rifts produced by the idea-besotted '60s continue to bedevil us.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Intellectual Crash of 2009

    Lee Siegel

    March 25, 2009

Historical Examples of bedevil

  • What's become of that little boot-black that you used to bedevil?

    Gabriel Conroy

    Bert Harte

  • And I love him for it, although I believe I do like to bedevil him a little.

    The Prairie Wife

    Arthur Stringer

  • Which, by the same token, presently lost track of him entirely, and wandered off to find and bedevil some other poor devil.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Paul Kelpy, thou wert an honest cut-throat, to bedevil so good a house: we turn it to account—ha, ha!

  • Of all the vegetables calculated to bedevil human beings, he decided, growing corn was the worst.

    The Duck-footed Hound

    James Arthur Kjelgaard

British Dictionary definitions for bedevil


verb -ils, -illing or -illed or US -ils, -iling or -iled (tr)

to harass or torment
to throw into confusion
to possess, as with a devil
Derived Formsbedevilment, noun
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

Word Origin and History for bedevil

1768, "to treat diabolically, abuse," from be- + verbal use of devil (q.v.). Meaning "to mischievously confuse" is from 1755; that of "to drive frantic" is from 1823. Related: Bedeviled (1570s, in a literal sense, "possessed"); bedeviling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper