or di·a·bol·i·cal

[dahy-uh-bol-ik or dahy-uh-bol-i-kuh l]


having the qualities of a devil; devilish; fiendish; outrageously wicked: a diabolic plot.
pertaining to or actuated by a devil.

Origin of diabolic

1350–1400; Middle English diabolik (< Middle French) < Late Latin diabolicus < Greek diabolikós, equivalent to diábol(os) devil + -ikos -ic
Related formsdi·a·bol·i·cal·ly, adverbdi·a·bol·i·cal·ness, nounhy·per·di·a·bol·i·cal, adjectivehy·per·di·a·bol·i·cal·ly, adverbhy·per·di·a·bol·i·cal·ness, nounnon·di·a·bol·ic, adjectivenon·di·a·bol·i·cal, adjectivenon·di·a·bol·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·di·a·bol·i·cal·ness, nounsu·per·di·a·bol·i·cal, adjectivesu·per·di·a·bol·i·cal·ly, adverbsu·per·di·a·bol·i·cal·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for diabolical

Contemporary Examples of diabolical

Historical Examples of diabolical

  • I didn't know there was any one living who could be so cruel, so cold, so diabolical.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • That face, now ashy white, was distorted into a diabolical grin.

  • And let me know your progress with Lovelace, and what he says to this diabolical curse.

    Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • The cat looked at him with great round eyes that were diabolical in their fixedness.

    Therese Raquin

    Emile Zola

  • It appears that one of these diabolical insects had got into my blankets.

British Dictionary definitions for diabolical


adjective informal

excruciatingly bad; outrageous
(intensifier)a diabolical liberty
Derived Formsdiabolically, adverbdiabolicalness, noun



of, relating to, or proceeding from the devil; satanic
befitting a devil; extremely cruel or wicked; fiendish
very difficult or unpleasant
Derived Formsdiabolically, adverbdiabolicalness, noun

Word Origin for diabolic

C14: from Late Latin diabolicus, from Greek diabolikos, from diabolos devil
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 diabolical

c.1500, "pertaining to the devil," from diabolic + -al (1). Meaning "befitting the devil" is from 1540s. Related: Diabolically.



late 14c., from Old French diabolique (13c.), from Late Latin diabolicus, from Ecclesiastical Greek diabolikos "devilish," from diabolos (see devil (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper