Definition of devil noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈdevl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdevl//
    Religious people, Types of belief
    jump to other results
  1. 1the Devil (in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions) the most powerful evil being synonym Satan He would sell his soul to the Devil. See related entries: Religious people, Types of belief
  2. 2an evil spirit They believed she was possessed by devils. See related entries: Types of belief
  3. 3(informal) a person who behaves badly, especially a child a naughty little devil
  4. 4(informal) used to talk about somebody and to emphasize an opinion that you have of them I miss the old devil, now that he's gone. She's off to Greece for a month—lucky devil! James was a handsome devil and rich, too.
  5. Word OriginOld English dēofol (related to Dutch duivel and German Teufel), via late Latin from Greek diabolos ‘accuser, slanderer’ (used in the Septuagint to translate Hebrew śāṭān ‘Satan’), from diaballein ‘to slander’, from dia ‘across’ + ballein ‘to throw’.Extra examples He behaved like someone possessed by devils. His strong left-wing views make him the devil incarnate to more extreme Conservatives. His views make him the devil incarnate to extreme conservatives. I miss the old devil, now that he’s gone. She’s off to Greece for a month—lucky devil! They were handsome young devils in their uniforms, weren’t they?Idioms (British English) people say Be a devil!to encourage somebody to do something that they are not sure about doing Go on, be a devil, buy both of them.
    better the devil you know (than the devil you don’t)
    jump to other results
    (saying) used to say that it is easier and wiser to stay in a bad situation that you know and can deal with rather than change to a new situation which may be much worse
    between the devil and the deep blue sea
    jump to other results
    in a difficult situation where there are two equally unpleasant or unacceptable choices
    (old-fashioned) very difficult or unpleasant These berries are the devil to pick because they're so small.
    the devil looks after his own
    jump to other results
    (saying) bad people often seem to have good luck
    the devil makes work for idle hands
    jump to other results
    (saying) people who do not have enough to do often start to do wrong She blamed the crimes on the local jobless teenagers. ‘The devil makes work for idle hands,’ she would say.
    (old-fashioned) a very difficult or unpleasant job or time I've had a devil of a job finding you. (informal) a lot of trouble There'll be hell to pay when he finds out. (old-fashioned, informal) used, in an unfriendly way, to tell somebody to go away (old-fashioned, informal) very hard, fast, etc. We ran like the devil.
    sell your soul (to the devil)
    jump to other results
    to do anything, even something bad or dishonest, in return for money, success or power
    speak/talk of the devil
    jump to other results
    (informal) people say speak/talk of the devil when somebody they have been talking about appears unexpectedly Well, speak of the devil—here's Alice now!
    what, where, who, why, etc. the devil…
    jump to other results
    (old-fashioned) used in questions to show that you are annoyed or surprised What the devil do you think you're doing?
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: devil