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bedevil

[bih-dev-uh l]
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verb (used with object), be·dev·iled, be·dev·il·ing or (especially British) be·dev·illed, be·dev·il·ling.
  1. to torment or harass maliciously or diabolically, as with doubts, distractions, or worries.
  2. to possess, as with a devil; bewitch.
  3. to cause confusion or doubt in; muddle; confound: an issue bedeviled by prejudices.
  4. to beset or hamper continuously: a new building bedeviled by elevator failures.
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Origin of bedevil

First recorded in 1760–70; be- + devil
Related formsbe·dev·il·ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

annoybotherirritatebesetharasstormentbafflerattleunsettleunhingeprovokebugbadgerflustermuddlebewilder

Examples from the Web for bedevil

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • 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

bedevil

verb -ils, -illing or -illed or US -ils, -iling or -iled (tr)
  1. to harass or torment
  2. to throw into confusion
  3. to possess, as with a devil
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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

v.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper