Definition of play the devil with in US English:

play the devil with

phrase

  • Have a damaging or disruptive effect on.

    ‘this brandy plays the devil with one's emotions!’
    • ‘He never got Hendry's letter with the news, and we knew that he was already in the hands of the woman who played the devil with his life.’
    • ‘All sorts of things have played the devil with me; for instance, a hideous bout of influenza that left me so debilitated that I had to take thermal baths at Baden.’
    • ‘Her mind played the devil with her and tortured her to death.’
    • ‘If it had not been for this unlucky hurt on my foot, I would have played the devil with them myself.’
    • ‘This played the devil with the men's sense of honour.’
    • ‘Climbing with full load in these conditions played the devil with fuel consumption.’
    • ‘The danger is dogmatic thought; it plays the devil with religion, and science is not immune from it.’
    • ‘The conflicting elements in his nature had played the devil with him.’
    • ‘She always played the devil with his emotions, and he wouldn't have it, by God.’
    • ‘She looks like an angel - and plays the devil with our hearts.’