diabolic, diabolical
Diabolic is used primarily with direct reference to the devil (as in Byron's Satan…merely bent his diabolic brow an instant, 1822), whereas diabolical is used overwhelmingly in its extended meanings ‘bad, disgraceful, awful’, describing such things as the weather, road traffic, the performance of a football team, communications, and ‘liberties’:

• Asked our postman about communications between Tunisia and England. He said they were ‘diabolical’ —S. Townsend, 1982

• Then, all of sudden, the gendarmes burst in and nabbed the first two blokes they saw who looked like English toffs, which was a diabolical liberty —Daily Telegraph, 2004.

However, diabolical is sometimes used in the original ‘devilish’ sense, especially when the rhythm of the sentence is improved by it

• (demonology, the study of devilish phenomena in general and the crime of diabolical witchcraft in particular —Canadian Journal of History, 2001).

Modern English usage. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • diabolic — DIABÓLIC, Ă, diabolici, ce, adj. 1. De diavol; care vine de la diavol; drăcesc. 2. Care denotă o mare cruzime, rău, crud; perfid, viclean; primejdios, funest. [pr.: di a ] – Din fr. diabolique, lat. diabolicus. Trimis de RACAI, 13.09.2007. Sursa …   Dicționar Român

  • Diabolic — Di a*bol ic, Diabolical Di a*bol ic*al, a. [L. diabolicus, Gr. ? devilish, slanderous: cf. F. diabolique. See {Devil}.] 1. Pertaining to the devil; resembling, or appropriate, or appropriate to, the devil; befitting hell or satan; devilish;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • diabolic — I adjective accursed, amoral, amoralistic, bad hearted, brutal, brutalized, callous, conscienceless, cruel, cursed, deadly, dehumanized, demoniac, demonic, devil like, devilish, evil, evil doing, evil minded, execrable, fiendish, fiendlike, full… …   Law dictionary

  • diabolic — late 14c., from O.Fr. diabolique (13c.), from L.L. diabolicus, from Eccles. Gk. diabolikos devilish, from diabolos (see DEVIL (Cf. devil)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • diabolic — [adj] evil, fiendish atrocious, cruel, damnable, demoniac, demonic, devilish, hellish, impious, infernal, Mephistophelian, monstrous, nasty, nefarious, satanic, serpentine, shocking, unhallowed, unpleasant, vicious, vile, villainous, wicked;… …   New thesaurus

  • diabolic — [dī΄ə bäl′ik] adj. [Fr diabolique < LL(Ec) diabolicus < diabolus: see DEVIL] 1. of the Devil or devils 2. very wicked or cruel; fiendish: Also diabolical diabolically adv …   English World dictionary

  • Diabolic — Not to be confused with Diabolic (rap artist). Diabolic Origin Tampa Bay, Florida, United States Genres Death metal Years active 1998 present Labels Fadeless Records, Conquest …   Wikipedia

  • diabolic — [[t]da͟ɪ͟əbɒ̱lɪk[/t]] 1) ADJ: ADJ n Diabolic is used to describe things that people think are caused by or belong to the Devil. [FORMAL] ...the diabolic forces which lurk in all violence. 2) ADJ (emphasis) If you describe something as diabolic,… …   English dictionary

  • diabolic — adjective /ˌdaɪəˈbɒlɪk/ a) Showing wickedness typical of a devil. diabolic magic square b) Extremely evil or cruel. a cunning and diabolic plot Syn: devilish, mephistophelian, mephi …   Wiktionary

  • diabolic — /daɪəˈbɒlɪk / (say duyuh bolik) adjective 1. having the qualities of a devil; fiendish; outrageously wicked: a diabolic plot. 2. relating to or actuated by the devil or a devil: *Behind him the old woman whistled screeches in a diabolic effort to …   Australian-English dictionary

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