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Speak Of The Devil! 15 Infernal Names For The Evil One

What motivates someone to be bad? Like, really really bad? Is it the devil on their shoulder or the one in the slick suit offering deals too good to pass up? Or are they just working for someone far, far worse? The word devil comes from the Greek diábolos, which literally means “slanderer.” The Spanish diablo and the adjectival diabolical also come from this word.

The Greeks weren’t talking about just any slanderer. No, they were talking about The Slanderer. The Deceiver. The Tempter. The Father of Lies. The Enemy. The Evil One. The ancient evil force that is named as the Devil in the Bible. However, this ruler of hell and lord of all evil goes by many different names. Join us as we descend into the depths of fire and brimstone to examine an infernal index of different names for the Devil.

Satan

Perhaps the most well-known name for the Devil is Satan. This name appears repeatedly in the Bible, such as in Luke 22:3 when the Devil is blamed for Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ: Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. 

The name Satan is recorded in English before the year 900. The English word comes through the Greek Satán from the Hebrew word śātān meaning “adversary.” Whatever name he goes by, the Devil is said to be the adversary of God: the Devil is out to destroy God’s work or to tempt humanity into turning away from God toward evil.

Ash-Shaytān (Shaitan) 

Of course, the Devil appears in Muslim scripture as well. Ash-Shaytān comes from the Arabic al-Shaytān and is etymologically connected to the English Satan. The “ash” or “al” indicates that one is talking about the Devil (with a capital D) as opposed to a devil or demon.

The name Ash-Shaytān has several different variants in Arabic, including Shaytan, Shaitan, and Sheitan.

Iblis 

We will stick with Islamic scripture for now and look at another name used to refer to the Devil: Iblis. This name is often used to tell the story of the origin of the Devil. According to the Qur’an, God commanded all the spirits to bow before Adam, but a spirit named Iblis refused. For this blasphemous act, Iblis was cast down from Heaven. This story may sound familiar to non-Muslims, and we will get back to this in a bit.

Iblis is actually a source of debate among Islamic scholars and thinkers. Some consider Iblis to be a fallen angel or archangel. Others count him as a jinn (a spirit that is lower in rank than an angel), usually the jinn that fathered all of the others.

The name Iblis comes through Arabic from the Greek diábolos, that same word that is also the origin of the word devil.

Lucifer

As with Iblis in Islamic scripture, the name Lucifer is often a source of debate among Biblical scholars. In the Bible, the story of a fallen angel is mentioned in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. According to the Bible, this angel became so vain and proud that he thought himself above God. As punishment for his wickedness, the angel was cast out of Heaven and into the dark pit of the Earth so that he would be even lower than humanity. In translations of the Bible, such as the King James Version, this angel’s name is said to be Lucifer.

The Bible does not say that this angel Lucifer is the same being as Satan. That connection was popularized by poet John Milton in his famous epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), which tells the story of the fallen angel Lucifer becoming Satan after a failed rebellion against God during a War in Heaven. Paradise Lost was (and is) so popular that its depiction of Satan still heavily influences modern depictions of the Devil and the lore many people associate with him.

The name Lucifer comes from Latin and means “morning star” or can be literally translated as “light bringing.” In classic mythology, Lucifer was the name of the planet Venus, which was personified as a man holding a torch.

 

If you imagine the devil as a purple fiendish fellow, then the Smiling Face with Horns emoji 😈 is worth reading about.

Prince of Darkness

This name for the Devil appeared in Paradise Lost, as well as William Shakespeare’s King Lear (1606). In the Bible, God is often associated with light, while the Devil, the opposing force, is often associated with darkness. The Devil has turned away from God’s light and embraced the darkness of sin. Prince of Darkness, then, accurately describes the Devil’s role as the ruler of the darkest darkness that is the pits of hell. A few other names for the Devil, such as the Lord of Darkness or the Dark Lord, similarly give the Devil a diabolical-sounding title.

The Serpent 

This name of the Serpent for the Devil is largely based on Genesis 3, wherein Eve is tempted by a talking snake to eat the forbidden fruit. Although the Bible doesn’t explicitly say so, popular biblical interpretation is that this serpent was actually the Devil. This belief that the lying snake was the Devil was the reason behind his many other duplicitous names, such as the Deceiver, the Tempter, or the Father of Lies.

The Devil seems to enjoy taking the form of nefarious lizards, as he is said to take the form of a gigantic dragon in the Book of Revelation. This explains another of his reptilian nicknames, the Dragon.

Old Nick

Old Nick is an informal nickname for the Devil that has been used since the 1600s. Although there are many theories where this name came from, nobody can say for certain. This one is surprising given that Old Saint Nick (or Nicholas) is a commonly used nickname for Santa Claus, who is about as far away from the Devil as you can get. Interestingly, though, there is a bit of a connection between these two in the form of Krampus, a terrifying goat-demon creature who, according to European legend, emerges during Christmastime to beat naughty children or bring them to hell. Yikes! Just one more reason to get on Santa’s Nice List.

The Devil’s age inspired a few other nicknames, such as Old Scratch and Old Harry, which also focus on his long lifespan.

 

Another name associated with haunted nights and diabolical smiles is Jack … as in “jack-o’-lantern.” Learn more about the name’s origin here.

Belial

In the Bible, the name Belial is used to directly refer to the Devil in 2 Corinthians when it is used to contrast the Devil as being the evil to Jesus’s good. The word Belial is also used throughout the Old Testament to describe wicked or sinful people as being men, children, and sons/daughters of Belial, meaning that they have turned away from God and serve the Devil.

The word Belial comes from the Hebrew bəliyyaʿal and is equivalent to a combination of the words bəlī (without) and yaʿal (worth). Belial is used in the Bible to say that a person embodies wickedness and is therefore “worthless” in the sense that they only take from others by performing evil deeds.

Beelzebub

Beelzebub is the first of several names that are either used to refer to the Devil himself or another devil that serves under him.

The name Beelzebub appears in the New Testament in the Gospels of Luke, Matthew, and Mark. According to the Bible, some onlookers accused Jesus of having the power to exorcise demons because he serves Beelzebub, who is said to be “the chief of devils.” Jesus assures the people that his power comes from God and not Satan.

The name Beelzebub comes from the Hebrew bá`al zebūb, which literally translates to “lord of flies.” In popular culture, Beelzebub is often depicted as a horrifying fly demon when he is considered to be a separate being from the Devil.

Apollyon 

The name Apollyon is mentioned in Revelation 9:11 and is used to refer to a king of demons. The Bible names Apollyon as “the angel of the bottomless pit” and states the name Apollyon is the Greek name for the being known in Hebrew as Abaddon. Common interpretation of this passage says that Apollyon is Satan or a powerful demon that serves him.

As the Bible hints at, the name Apollyon comes from the Greek apollýōn, which is a participle of the verb apollýnai meaning “to destroy.” The name Abaddon comes from the Hebrew ăbhaddōnōn, which means “destruction.” Whoever Apollyon/Abaddon is, they are also often referred to as the Destroyer.

Mammon

The word mammon appears in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew when recounting one of Jesus’s sermons. Jesus uses this term to refer to the wicked greed and desire for wealth. Jesus states that it is impossible to serve both God and mammon. As time went on, writers would interpret this passage to mean that Jesus was talking about a demonic entity named Mammon that embodied wealth and obsessive greed.

Mammon comes from the Aramaic māmōnā, which means “riches” or “wealth.”

Legion 

Legion is the name of a demon or a group of demons that Jesus encounters in the Gospels of Luke and Mark. Jesus asks a demon who is possessing a man their name and receives the famous answer of “My name is Legion: for we are many.”

The name Legion comes from the Latin legiōn, which refers to a body of soldiers. Ancient Rome was famous for its legions (of soldiers) that made it a dominant military power.

Azazel

The name Azazel is used in translations of the scapegoat ritual as mentioned in Leviticus 16. According to the account of the ritual, a goat would be offered to God and a second goat bearing the sins of the people would be offered to Azazel. This being known as Azazel is also referred to as “the scapegoat.” Interpretations of this passage would suggest that Azazel was some kind of demonic entity, possibly even the Devil himself.

Mephistopheles

The name Mephistopheles comes from the German legends of Faust. In the legends, Faust is bored with life and pleads to the Devil to give him knowledge and pleasure. Happy to oblige, a demon named Mephistopheles appears before Faust. Depending on the story, this Mephistopheles is either the Devil himself or a devil who works for him. Either way, Faust makes a deal with the Devil and gets the sinful pleasure he wants in exchange for his soul and an eternity in hell.

 

How much do you know about the origins of another legendary figure: Dracula?

the Antichrist

The Antichrist is only briefly mentioned in the Bible in First and Second Epistles of John as some kind of being that is acting in opposition to Jesus. However, the role of the Antichrist would be expanded on in other Biblical texts and by many Christian writers. In most versions, the Antichrist is imagined as an unholy opposite to Jesus Christ; the Antichrist is a being that will bring sin and damnation to mankind. It is said that the arrival of the Antichrist will signal the end of the world. In modern depictions, the Antichrist is frequently imagined as the son of Satan, mirroring how Jesus is the son of God.

More devils and demons

While Satan is the Devil, he doesn’t rule alone in his fiery pit of hell. He has many devils that work under him, gleefully spreading evil and corrupting humanity. Some words that we use to describe these infernal denizens of hell include:

 

The Devil is also often said to have many lesser demons that help him rule over hell. The names of these rulers of hell were catalogued in the Dictionnaire Infernal (1818). Besides our friends Beelzebub and Mammon, some interesting names include Belphegor, Lamia, Astaroth, and Garuda.

The unholy horrors that haunt humanity don’t just hang out in hell, though. There are plenty of baddies and beasties that are said to roam the earth looking for humans to terrorize. If you don’t spook easily, you can check out our guide to ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and many other nightmares that go bump in the night.

🔥Fired up for a challenge?🔥

Say a prayer and fortify yourself as you battle this quiz on all the unholy names you’ve learned.

 

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