• synonyms


[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

Examples from the Web for bedeviling

Historical Examples

  • In less than two years the world was rid of most of what had been bedeviling it.

    And All the Earth a Grave

    Carroll M. Capps (AKA C.C. MacApp)

  • Suzanne was bedeviling him by her support and communications.

    The "Genius"

    Theodore Dreiser

  • Bud was oblivious, for he had come into Bennett's Woods to try to solve the problems that were bedeviling him.

    The Black Fawn

    James Arthur Kjelgaard

  • And as the bedeviling thing had begun, so it had continued, losing none of its potency for evil.

    The Price

    Francis Lynde

British Dictionary definitions for bedeviling


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 bedeviling



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