Mephistopheles

Mephistopheles

[mef-uh-stof-uh-leez]
noun
Medieval Demonology. one of the seven chief devils and the tempter of Faust.
Also, Mephisto [muh-fis-toh] .

Mephistophelian, Mephistophelean [‐stuh-fee-lee-uhn] , adjective
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World English Dictionary
Mephistopheles or Mephisto (ˌmɛfɪˈstɒfɪˌliːz, məˈfɪstəʊ)
 
n
a devil in medieval mythology and the one to whom Faust sold his soul in the Faust legend
 
Mephisto or Mephisto
 
n
 
Mephistophelean or Mephisto
 
adj
 
Mephistophelian or Mephisto
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

Mephistopheles
1598, the evil spirit whom Faust sold his soul to in the Ger. legend, from Ger. (1587), of unknown origin. According to the speculation of eminent Göthe scholar K.J. Schröer (1886) it is a compound of Heb. mephitz "destroyer" + tophel "liar" (short for tophel sheqer, lit. "falsehood plasterer;"
cf. Job xiii.4). Names of devils in the Middle Ages in most cases derived from Heb.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

mephistopheles

familiar spirit of the Devil in late settings of the legend of Faust. It is probable that the name Mephistopheles was invented for the historical Faust by the anonymous author of the first Faustbuch (1587). A latecomer in the infernal hierarchy, Mephistopheles never became an integral part of the tradition of magic and demonology that predated him by thousands of years. He is mentioned only in the magic manuals attributed to Faust. He belongs essentially to literature. In Doctor Faustus (1604), by the English dramatist Christopher Marlowe, Mephistopheles achieves tragic grandeur as a fallen angel, torn between satanic pride and dark despair. In the drama Faust (Part I, 1808; Part II, 1832), by J.W. von Goethe, he is cold-hearted, cynical, and witty-perhaps a more subtle but certainly a slighter creation. At the end of Goethe's drama, Faust's soul escapes from Mephistopheles while he is making improper advances to the angels that have come to rescue it.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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