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Definition: devil1 from The Penguin English Dictionary

(usu the Devil) the supreme spirit of evil in Jewish and Christian belief.


a malignant spirit; a demon.


an extremely cruel or wicked person; a fiend.


a high-spirited or, reckless, or energetic person.


informal a person of the specified type

a lucky devil


(the devil) informal something provoking, difficult, or trying.


used as an interjection or intensive

What the devil is that?


dated, informal a junior legal counsel working without payment to gain experience.


= printer's devil.


any of various machines or devices, e.g. a paper shredder ✱ between the devil and the deep blue sea faced with two equally unwelcome alternatives ✱ give the devil his due to give desired credit to an opponent or an unpleasant person ✱ go to the devil to fail completely; to be ruined.


to become depraved.


said in anger, rejection, etc: to go away ✱ like the devil informal with great speed, intensity, etc ✱ play the devil with to cause damage or disruption to (something) ✱ speak/talk of the devil said when a person just spoken of appears unexpectedly [from the proverb talk of the devil and he's sure to appear] ✱ the devil to pay a lot of trouble [probably connected with medieval notions of a person making a pact with Satan, as in the Faust story.] [Old English dēofol via late Latin diabolus from Greek diabolos, literally ‘slanderer’].

Summary Article: devil
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theology, the supreme spirit of evil (Beelzebub, Lucifer, Iblis), or an evil spirit generally.

The Devil, or Satan, is mentioned only in the more recently written books of the Old Testament, but the later Jewish doctrine is that found in the New Testament. The concept of the Devil passed into the early Christian church from Judaism, and theology until at least the time of St Anselm represented the Atonement as primarily the deliverance, through Jesus's death, of humankind from the bondage of the Devil. Jesus recognized as a reality the kingdom of evil, of which Satan or Beelzebub was the prince. In the Middle Ages, the Devil in popular superstition assumed the attributes of the horned fertility gods of paganism, and was regarded as the god of witches. The belief in a personal devil was strong during the Reformation, and the movement's leader Luther regarded himself as the object of a personal Satanic persecution. With the development of liberal Protestantism in the 19th century came a strong tendency to deny the existence of a positive spirit of evil, and to explain the Devil as merely a personification.

However, the traditional conception was never abandoned by the Roman Catholic Church, and theologians such as C S Lewis have maintained the existence of a power of evil.

In Muslim theology, Iblis is one of the jinn (beings created by Allah from fire), who refused to prostrate himself before Adam, and who tempted Adam and his wife Hawwa (Eve) to disobey Allah, an act that led to their expulsion from Paradise. He continues to try to lead people astray, but at the Last Judgement he and his hosts will be consigned to hell.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

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