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[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 bedevilled

Historical Examples

  • It has already, and I am down and hipped and bedevilled cruelly.

    Charles Lever, His Life in His Letters, Vol. II (of II)

    Edmund Downey

  • Everard was led to say that Nevil's cousins were bedevilled with womanfolk.

  • The very captains in the harbor have been bedevilled by the priests.

    A King of Tyre

    James M. Ludlow

  • All the animals which men have bedevilled in their own image—and which have bedevilled men in return.

  • Are you bedevilled with Wentworth's theory that a man can be both a socialist and a royalist?

    The Decadent

    Ralph Adams Cram

British Dictionary definitions for bedevilled


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 bedevilled



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