- (sometimes initial capital letter)the supreme spirit of evil; Satan.
- a subordinate evil spirit at enmity with God, and having power to afflict humans both with bodily disease and with spiritual corruption.
verb (used with object), dev·iled, dev·il·ing or (especially British) dev·illed, dev·il·ling.
- to fail completely; lose all hope or chance of succeeding.
- to become depraved.
- (an expletive expressing annoyance, disgust, impatience, etc.)
- to cause a commotion or disturbance.
- to celebrate wildly; revel.
- to make an emphatic protest or take drastic measures.
Origin of devil
- to fail or become dissipated
- (interjection)used to express annoyance with the person causing it
- to cause a commotion
- to make a great protest
- used in such phrases as what the devil, where the devil, etc
- an exclamation of anger, surprise, disgust, etc
verb -ils, -illing or -illed or US -ils, -iling or -iled
Word Origin for devil
Old English deofol "evil spirit, a devil, the devil, false god, diabolical person," from Late Latin diabolus (also the source of Italian diavolo, French diable, Spanish diablo; German Teufel is Old High German tiufal, from Latin via Gothic diabaulus).
The Late Latin word is from Ecclesiastical Greek diabolos, in Jewish and Christian use, "Devil, Satan" (scriptural loan-translation of Hebrew satan), in general use "accuser, slanderer," from diaballein "to slander, attack," literally "throw across," from dia- "across, through" + ballein "to throw" (see ballistics). Jerome re-introduced Satan in Latin bibles, and English translators have used both in different measures.
In Vulgate, as in Greek, diabolus and dæmon (see demon) were distinct, but they have merged in English and other Germanic languages.
Playful use for "clever rogue" is from c.1600. Meaning "sand spout, dust storm" is from 1835. In U.S. place names, the word often represents a native word such as Algonquian manito, more properly "spirit, god." Phrase a devil way (late 13c.) was originally an emphatic form of away, but taken by late 14c. as an expression of irritation.
Devil's books "playing cards" is from 1729, but the cited quote says they've been called that "time out of mind" (the four of clubs is the devil's bedposts); devil's coach-horse is from 1840, the large rove-beetle, which is defiant when disturbed. "Talk of the Devil, and he's presently at your elbow" [1660s].
Give the devil his due
Admit it when there is some good even in a person you dislike. This saying appears in Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes.
give the devil his due
Give credit to what is good in a disagreeable or disliked person. For example, I don't like John's views on education, but give the devil his due, he always has something important to say, or I don't like what the new management has done, but give the devil his due, sales have improved. [Late 1500s]
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
- 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