a small, predacious marsupial, Sarcophilus harrisii, of Tasmania, having a black coat with white patches: its dwindling population is now confined to isolated areas.
Origin of Tasmanian devil
First recorded in 1885–90
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
a small ferocious carnivorous marsupial, Sarcophilus harrisi, of Tasmania, having black fur with pale markings, strong jaws, and short legs: family DasyuridaeAlso called: ursine dasyure
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
so called since at least 1829, from its propensity for killing young lambs (other voracious fish or animals also have been named devil).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper