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[mef-uh-stof-uh-leez] /ˌmɛf əˈstɒf əˌliz/
Medieval Demonology. one of the seven chief devils and the tempter of Faust.
Also, Mephisto
[muh-fis-toh] /məˈfɪs toʊ/ (Show IPA)
Related forms
Mephistophelian, Mephistophelean
[‐stuh-fee-lee-uh n] /‐stəˈfi li ən/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mephistophelean
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In a flash there recurred to him every incident of those dramatic interviews with the mephistophelean doctor.

    The Doctor of Pimlico William Le Queux
  • But reflection brought a mephistophelean suggestion of comfort.

    The Burglars' Club Henry A. Hering
  • His mephistophelean eyebrows were raised interrogatively, and he was smiling so as to exhibit a row of uneven yellow teeth.

    The Yellow Claw Sax Rohmer
  • The bearded man stood ready, and exchanged a glance with his mephistophelean companion, who was behind the doctor now.

    The Bag of Diamonds George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for mephistophelean


a devil in medieval mythology and the one to whom Faust sold his soul in the Faust legend
Derived Forms
Mephistophelean, Mephistophelian (ˌmɛfɪstəˈfiːlɪən) adjective
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 mephistophelean


1590s, the evil spirit to whom Faust sold his soul in the German legend, from German (1587), of unknown origin. According to the speculation of eminent Göthe scholar K.J. Schröer (1886) it is a compound of Hebrew mephitz "destroyer" + tophel "liar" (short for tophel sheqer, literally "falsehood plasterer;" cf. Job xiii:4). Klein writes that the names of devils in the Middle Ages "are in most cases derived from Hebrew."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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mephistophelean in Culture
Mephistopheles [(mef-i-stof-uh-leez)]

In the drama Faust by Goethe, a devil who tempts Faust into selling his soul to the powers of darkness. Mephistopheles also appears, with his name spelled Mephistophilis, in the sixteenth-century English play Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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