[ dev-uh l ]
/ ˈdɛv əl /


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

Nearby words

  1. deviation,
  2. deviationism,
  3. deviatory,
  4. devic's disease,
  5. device,
  6. devil and deep blue sea,
  7. devil dog,
  8. devil of a,
  9. devil ray,
  10. devil take the hindmost, the


Origin of devil

before 900; Middle English devel, Old English dēofol < Late Latin diabolus < Greek diábolos Satan (Septuagint, NT), literally, slanderer (noun), slanderous (adj.), verbid of diabállein to assault someone's character, literally, to throw across, equivalent to dia- dia- + bállein to throw

Related formsout·dev·il, verb (used with object), out·dev·iled, out·dev·il·ing or (especially British) out·dev·illed, out·dev·il·ling.sub·dev·il, nounun·der·dev·il, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for devil of a


/ (ˈdɛvəl) /


verb -ils, -illing or -illed or US -ils, -iling or -iled

Word Origin for devil

Old English dēofol, from Latin diabolus, from Greek diabolos enemy, accuser, slanderer, from diaballein, literally: to throw across, hence, to slander

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 devil of a


Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for devil of a


A bad or fallen angel. (See Satan.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with devil of a

devil of a

Also, one devil or the devil of a; hell of a. Infernally annoying or difficult, as in This is a devil of an assembly job, or She had one devil of a time getting through the traffic, or I had a hell of a morning sitting in that doctor's office. The first expression dates from the mid-1700s. The variant is a couple of decades newer and its precise meaning depends on the context. For example, We had a hell of a time getting here invariably means we had a very difficult or annoying time, but He is one hell of a driver could mean that he is either very good or very bad (see hell of a, def. 2).


In addition to the idioms beginning with devil

  • devil and deep blue sea
  • devil of a
  • devil take the hindmost, the
  • devil to pay, the

also see:

  • between a rock and a hard place (devil and deep blue sea)
  • full of it (the devil)
  • give someone hell (the devil)
  • give the devil his due
  • go to hell (the devil)
  • luck of the devil
  • play the devil with
  • raise Cain (the devil)
  • speak of the devil
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.