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[dahy-uh-bol-ik] /ˌdaɪ əˈbɒl ɪk/
having the qualities of a devil; devilish; fiendish; outrageously wicked:
a diabolic plot.
pertaining to or actuated by a devil.
Also, diabolical.
Origin of diabolic
1350-1400; Middle English diabolik (< Middle French) < Late Latin diabolicus < Greek diabolikós, equivalent to diábol(os) devil + -ikos -ic
Related forms
diabolically, adverb
diabolicalness, noun
hyperdiabolical, adjective
hyperdiabolically, adverb
hyperdiabolicalness, noun
nondiabolic, adjective
nondiabolical, adjective
nondiabolically, adverb
nondiabolicalness, noun
superdiabolical, adjective
superdiabolically, adverb
superdiabolicalness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for diabolical
  • Nor are they diabolical geniuses; rather, they tend to be surprisingly dull-witted.
  • Quite clearly, by the end of the war, one knew what a diabolical fiend he was.
  • Lopez insists that their sparring matches were more droll than diabolical.
  • It's as if the filmmakers didn't know how to resolve the mayhem, opting for silly over diabolical.
  • Nothing diabolical, just simple demographics.
  • Fear of dentists (and their diabolical drills) isn't just for kids.
  • It's a diabolical situation.
  • How diabolical, then, for her editor to ask her to review the experience of reading an electronic book.
  • Ah, our diabolical plot is going entirely as planned.
  • He also has an even more diabolical plan waiting in the wings.
British Dictionary definitions for diabolical


adjective (informal)
excruciatingly bad; outrageous
(intensifier): a diabolical liberty
Derived Forms
diabolically, adverb
diabolicalness, noun


of, relating to, or proceeding from the devil; satanic
befitting a devil; extremely cruel or wicked; fiendish
very difficult or unpleasant
Derived Forms
diabolically, adverb
diabolicalness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin diabolicus, from Greek diabolikos, from diabolosdevil
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 diabolical

c.1500, "pertaining to the devil," from diabolic + -al (1). Meaning "befitting the devil" is from 1540s. Related: Diabolically.



late 14c., from Old French diabolique (13c.), from Late Latin diabolicus, from Ecclesiastical Greek diabolikos "devilish," from diabolos (see devil (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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