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[bih-dev-uh l] /bɪˈdɛv əl/
verb (used with object), bedeviled, bedeviling or (especially British) bedevilled, bedevilling.
to torment or harass maliciously or diabolically, as with doubts, distractions, or worries.
to possess, as with a devil; bewitch.
to cause confusion or doubt in; muddle; confound:
an issue bedeviled by prejudices.
to beset or hamper continuously:
a new building bedeviled by elevator failures.
Origin of bedevil
1760-70; be- + devil
Related forms
bedevilment, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for bedevil
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Paul Kelpy, thou wert an honest cut-throat, to bedevil so good a house: we turn it to account—ha, ha!

  • Which, by the same token, presently lost track of him entirely, and wandered off to find and bedevil some other poor devil.

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • What's become of that little boot-black that you used to bedevil?

    Gabriel Conroy Bert Harte
  • Of all the vegetables calculated to bedevil human beings, he decided, growing corn was the worst.

    The Duck-footed Hound James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • I've been listening to you trying to bedevil that man out there, but I'm afraid your humor is a little on the slap-stick order.

    Wide Courses James Brendan Connolly
  • This contract in a very few years arose to bedevil the railroad situation in the North Country.

  • And I love him for it, although I believe I do like to bedevil him a little.

    The Prairie Wife Arthur Stringer
British Dictionary definitions for bedevil


verb (transitive) -ils, -illing, -illed (US) -ils, -iling, -iled
to harass or torment
to throw into confusion
to possess, as with a devil
Derived Forms
bedevilment, noun
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
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Word Origin and History for bedevil

1768, "to treat diabolically, abuse," from be- + verbal use of devil (q.v.). Meaning "to mischievously confuse" is from 1755; that of "to drive frantic" is from 1823. Related: Bedeviled (1570s, in a literal sense, "possessed"); bedeviling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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