Definition of devilry in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Wicked activity.

    ‘some devilry was afoot’
    • ‘Yet his historical grasp was not matched by real enthusiasm for making war, and he lacked that very seasoning of devilry which might have made him a great general.’
    • ‘Gretchen is his ideal with her delicacy and restraint, but Mephistopheles in all his fiendish devilry aims to thwart the lovers.’
    • ‘A deep laughter coming from beside me completes the illusion of devilry, and in imagining my assailant images of animalistic ritual costumes spring to mind.’
    • ‘But with the sudden arrival of two volatile hobbits, the nearby evils of timber-cutting, industrial devilry, and mass murder became too much for the Ents to stomach.’
    • ‘It seemed to look back at her mockingly, and eventually, she realized that she didn't have enough malice to withstand such devilry and took her defeat gracefully.’
    • ‘Lorelei had become experienced with this devilry of trickery because this was what she had been doing for the 365 days since that day far, far away.’
    • ‘It seduces the men of the world with the sweet temptation of wealth and power that binds them to a fate of devilry, torture, and death.’
    • ‘Oh I know why… it's because you've read the newspaper and you know my devilry and raid has begun.’
    • ‘What is the point of having a family if there's so much evil and devilry implicit in it all?’
    • ‘Despite Cookie's ranting about the devilry of the Raleighs, I was still sure that there was a method behind their seemingly random cruelty.’
    • ‘The plan was intended to combat piracy, because the old sailors often took to that devilry after they could no longer get honest work; it was the only way they could feed their families.’
    wickedness, evil, evil-doing, evilness, sin, sinfulness, iniquity, iniquitousness, vileness, foulness, baseness, badness, wrong, wrongdoing, dishonesty, unscrupulousness, roguery, villainy, rascality, delinquency, viciousness, devilishness, fiendishness, heinousness
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    1. 1.1Reckless mischief.
      ‘a perverse sense of devilry urged her to lead him on’
      • ‘Tony had stepped into the room just as his mother had accused his friend of devilry, and knew that he had to interrupt before things got ugly.’
      • ‘One thing he does is get up to a little competitive devilry by unveiling the Google Pack, a parcel of software programs that you can download for free (if you have a Windows PC).’
      • ‘So, not much to behold of the left-footed devilry that terrorised defences around the globe and won him the coveted African footballer's award in 1988, but perhaps a different kind of magic to see.’
      • ‘He carried on with his devilry not just because he thought it served a good purpose, but also because he enjoyed it.’
      • ‘The Presto vivace Finale, however, finds our conductor in joyous vein throughout, with a strong sense of devilry bringing added exuberance to those key points where Schubert urges his forces in other directions.’
      • ‘In some ways, their findings merely confirm the accepted image of a King lacking the drive and devilry of either his father or his son.’
      • ‘The whole place had an eerie feel, it was over 250 years old and in that time there must have been plenty of devilry and scandalous behaviour.’
      • ‘The devilry exhibited by minibus drivers and their long-distance counterparts is fuelled by the inability of transport proprietors to maintain their fleets or single vehicles in reasonable condition.’
      • ‘A trade group for the US recording industry is targeting ISPs in its latest bid to rid the world of Napster-style devilry.’
      • ‘Not since ITV's Brideshead Revisited, 20 years ago now, has an English country house been home to so many familiar names, and if Gosford Park life lacks the vicious streak of Evelyn Waugh's work, its playful devilry is a joy.’
      • ‘Slowly, his astonishment mutated into a face of contorted devilry.’
      • ‘The artist that launched a thousand two-tone bands has dignity and devilry, vocal smile and varnished soul.’
      • ‘They may, however, have missed the real story - a tale of some very nasty political devilry.’
    2. 1.2Black magic; dealings with the devil.
      • ‘Make-up is an art of adornment and concealment and vanity - three prongs of devilry - and is frowned upon in all its many forms.’
      • ‘Masking the witches also moves them from a simplistic medieval notion of devilry and further towards symbolism.’
      • ‘Thus the nightmarish devilry of the Symphonie fantastique is purely to be imagined, not seen; so too are the will-o’-the-wisps and the inhabitants of pandemonium in La Damnation de Faust.’
      • ‘He threw the broad sword and it hit right into the small face of the demon-beast that was using devilry magic.’
      • ‘Even the low-comedy scenes, in which Tom Smith's red-nosed Robin dabbles in devilry, emerge as a caustic reflection of Faustus's higher magic and demonstrate the futility of his quest for omnipotence.’
      • ‘As the moth leaves, the Isengard motif returns, driving itself like the machinery it represents as we see the devilry that Saruman is creating below the tower.’
      • ‘Yellow eyes or a yellow complexion can be signs of illness (as in jaundice) or of devilry, or both: Frankenstein's monster had yellow, watery eyes.’
      • ‘An earlier authority, Dallas in Kettner's Book of the Table, had stated that devils were of two kinds, the dry and the wet, but had also commented: It is the great fault of all devilry that it knows no bounds.’
      • ‘They have devilry in their souls, and a movie like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban does not soothe them.’
      • ‘Is it to expose them to devilry and witchery at such a young, impressionable age, and all in the name of fun?’
      • ‘‘… To think that she'd be able to conjure up such devilry as this,’ cursed the Archmage, as he struggled to compact the sphere further.’