Medieval Demonology. one of the seven chief devils and the tempter of Faust.

Also Me·phis·to [muh-fis-toh] /məˈfɪs toʊ/.
Related formsMeph·is·to·phe·li·an, Meph·is·to·phe·le·an [‐stuh-fee-lee-uh n] /‐stəˈfi li ən/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mephistophelian

Historical Examples of mephistophelian

  • He avoided with difficulty a burst of Mephistophelian laughter.

    Under Western Eyes

    Joseph Conrad

  • But suddenly she knitted her brows in a Mephistophelian frown.

    Under Western Eyes

    Joseph Conrad

  • For not even here was my father's satire of the cheerless and Mephistophelian school.

    The Caxtons, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • What he saw caused a sort of Mephistophelian grin to curve his lips.

    Ann Arbor Tales

    Karl Edwin Harriman

  • Stoffles was her name, a familiar abbreviation, and Mephistophelian was her nature.

British Dictionary definitions for mephistophelian


Mephisto (məˈfɪstəʊ)


a devil in medieval mythology and the one to whom Faust sold his soul in the Faust legend
Derived FormsMephistophelean or Mephistophelian (ˌmɛfɪstəˈfiːlɪən), adjective
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 mephistophelian


1590s, the evil spirit to whom Faust sold his soul in the German legend, from German (1587), of unknown origin. According to the speculation of eminent Göthe scholar K.J. Schröer (1886) it is a compound of Hebrew mephitz "destroyer" + tophel "liar" (short for tophel sheqer, literally "falsehood plasterer;" cf. Job xiii:4). Klein writes that the names of devils in the Middle Ages "are in most cases derived from Hebrew."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mephistophelian in Culture



In the drama Faust by Goethe, a devil who tempts Faust into selling his soul to the powers of darkness. Mephistopheles also appears, with his name spelled Mephistophilis, in the sixteenth-century English play Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe.

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.