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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Devil, Dewil, Divil, n. Also: devyl(l, devill, -ile, devel(l, deivell, deavill; dewyll, -ill, -ell, dewle; divill, -ell, dyvill, duvill, diwil, diwell. [ME. devel(l, -ill, etc. (e.m.E. also divel), early deovel, deofel, OE. déofol. See also Deil(l n.1]

1. The Devil; the evil spirit.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xix. 84.
Be thi spek I wat now The dewil is mare master than thu
Ib. xxvii. 620.
Sympil men … [he] Dissawis thru the dewylis mycht
c1420 Wynt. v. 3404.
In lyklyness off a spayman Off cas the dewyll spak wyth hym than
1533 Gau 48/23.
Jesus Christ the quhilk … distroyit the kingdome of the dewil
1557 Inverness B. Rec. I. ii.
Saiand … scho wes yet with the dewyllis kap on hyr hed on hycht of the Kirk of Elgyn
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xxxiv. 22.
Perswading him [Adam] for to accord Wnto the dewillis report
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I. 115.
Becaws the Dewill playit nocht so melodiousle and weill as thow crewit, thow tuik his instrument owt of his mouth
(b) c1420 Wynt. v. 4706.
Hale hys purpos he set than For to becum the Devillis man
Ib. 4710.
The Devyll and he togyddyr met
1456 Hay I. 12/3.
The devill … sett him at all his power to debate agayne the lawis
c1450 Cr. Deyng 136.
Quhen the deuill seis that he may nocht dyseff a man in the faith of the kirk
1490 Irland Mir. I. 36/27.
In our bapteme we renunce the deuill
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 448.
I sall send the blak Deuill for to bak thé
1513 Doug. i. Prol. 142.
It has na thing ado tharwith, … Ne na mair lyke than the devill and Sanct Austyne
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3550.
Thow art the Deuillis dam
1562-3 Winȝet I. 26/26.
For not assisting … in gainsaying leis, the father thairof the deuyll, and all his memberis
a1578 Pitsc. II. 63/25.
Thairfor the bischope of Breichin curssit thé and deliuerit thé in the devillis handis
1596 Dalr. II. 174/17.
Seing a possest persone with the deuil … rinn throuch gaites … and streits frilie
1638 Bk. Pasquils 87.
The Lord … hes awen worke he hes to you intrusted To prosecute, mauger the deivell's despyte
(c) (a1568 Dunb.) Bann. MS. 132 b/39.
The dyvill luche and on him qwoth nod
(a1568 Kennedy) Ib. 151 a/296.
Scho … merreit with the diuill for dignite
1604 Misc. Hist. Soc. II. 246.
The divill is not sua ivill as he is cald
1640 Lithgow Poet. Rem. 245.
Me thinks … the Divell Had got his reynes, the actor of this evill
1661 Soc. Ant. XXII. 251.
Shoe confesses that … the divill came to them at the bleachin grien hard by the toune of Forfar
1669 Reg. Privy C. 3rd Ser. II. 614.
The crymes of witchcraft, charmeing and compacting with the divell

b. In the possessive as a term of execration. 1375 Barb. vii. 23.
For war ȝon deuillis hund avay, I roucht nocht of the layff, perfay
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 454.
The firmament na firth was newir cler, Quhill thou, Deulbere, deuillis birth, was on the see
1560 Rolland Seven S. 2695.
Quha can excuse this dowbill Deuillis lim?
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xxvi. 7.
Sum … with grit wrang ar planelie reft With dewillis lymmis that neuer docht

c. In imprecations (direct or reported). a1500 Henr. Fab. 731.
Better that I had biddin at hame Nor bene ane fischar in the Deuillis name
Ib. 822.
To the Deuill he gaif his banis to keip
c1475 Wall. i. 432.
Quha menys it maist, the dewyll of hell him droun
Ib. ii. 93.
Go hens thé, Scot, the mekill dewill thé speid
a1500 Seven S. 1453.
Scho said, lat him ga to the devill
1513 Doug. i. Prol. 240.]
[A twenty devill may fall hys wark atanys
1551 Acts II. 485/1.
The blasphematioun of the name of God sweirand … be … Deuill stick, cummer, gor, … and vthers vgsume aithis
1560 St. A. Kirk S. 36.
William granttes thir wordes, ‘The Devill cayre the Kirk’
1571 Sat. P. xxviii. 158.
Dunbartane Castell — Deuill mot ding the doun!
a1585 Maitl. Q. lxxxiii. 48.
Fairweill, the deuill of hell go with
1624 Peebles B. Rec. 365.
Charles Porteous … grantis he said: The devill be amang the provest and bailȝeis or I be thair burges
1624 Misc. Abbotsf. C. 139.
Ȝe gaue baith aill and barme to the divell
1632 Dundonald Par. Rec. 343.
Scho said, Deavill be in the Sessioune that scho came into
1649 Cupar Presb. 147.
Elspet replyed, Their is milk bewest me, and milk be-east, … and a hungry heart can gett none of it. The diwell put his foot among it
ellipt. 1646 Kinghorn Kirk S. 61.
A complaint … bearing that she said devill nor Montrose were here & that ilk ane had a essay of him as she had

d. As an expletive after quha, quhat, quhair, etc. c1475 Wall. i. 216.
Quha dewill thé grathis in so gay a gyde
a1500 Rauf C. 95.
Quhy Deuill makis thow na dule for this euill day?
1540 Lynd. Sat. 1958 (B).
Quhat diuill a(i)llis the cowid carle
Ib. 2772 (Ch).
Quhair Devil gat we this ill-fairde blaitie bum?
1560 Rolland Seven S. 6696.
Quhat deuill (said I) me think thow schaipis to ride

e. Used as a negative, or in phrases of negation. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2339.
The deuill ane stirk taill thairfoir sall ȝe haif
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 441.
Haltane harlot, the deuill a gude thou hais!
c1530-40 Stewart Maitl. F. lxxxii. 19.
I gat na les na dewill a thing For larges of this new ȝeir day
a1540 Freiris Berw. 266.
Dame, eit with me, and drink, gif that ȝe may. Said the gudwyf, ‘Devill inche cun may I’
a1568 Bann. MS. 158 a/44.
The divill a thing of his geir is reddy then to ryd
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xlix. 212.
The dewill a wourde that scho micht speik
1603 Philotus cv.
For that deuyse deuill haid it dowis
1623 Elgin Rec. II. 180.
Dewill a bitt of hir sittis heir
a1650 Row 287.
Mr James said plainlie, … I thank my God I got none of it. Whereupon a friend said mirrilie to him, They say that ye got Devill be-lickit at this Assemblie

2. An evil spirit; a fiend or demon.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii. 415.
Thu … wykitly Callis our goddis al dewilis now
c1420 Wynt. v. 663.
The dewyllys that in the ydolys ware
Ib. 2108.
Tyll a dewyll yhoure serwys [to] mak
a1500 Seven S. 982.
Ȝe sall fynd all ewill That for my son brocht me a dewill
1533 Gau 26/19.
The dewillis trowis and tremlis
1562-3 Winȝet I. 118/19.
Ane terribill cumpany of dewlis … apperand to him
(a1570-86 Dunb.) Maitl. F. xi. 101.
The dewellis gawe thame hat leid to lape
Ib. xii. 20.
Misgydit memberis off the dewellis
1583 Sempill Sat. P. xlv. Pr. 4.
Sic dewils but dout sall in our dayis appeir
(b) a1400 Leg. S. i. 404.
In this Symon dwellis ay Twa substance, … Of devel and man
c1420 Wynt. v. 4864.
Makand to deuelys offt sacryfy
?1438 Alex. ii. 4629.
The carlis … said that thay war deuils or dragouns
1456 Hay I. 271/22.
Men sais commonly that word is as wynd, bot dynt is as devill
a1500 Seven S. 248.
Now schawis wele Ȝour callit son is bot a devill
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 527.
Deuill, dampnit dog
Ib. 551.
Induellar wyth the deuillis
1531 Bell. Boece I. p. xix.
This Albyne, with hir fiftie sisteris … conversit with devillis in forme of men
c1568 Lauder Minor P. ii. 34.
Now mony vsis sosserie, Doand the deuylis of Hell coniure
1603 Philotus cxlviii.
Supponing mee ane deuill of Hell
(c) (a1568 Dunb.) Bann. MS. 35 a/5.
The diuillis trymmillis with hiddous voce
(Id.) Ib. 164 b/52.
All the diuillis of hell

3. An evil or fiendish person. c1475 Wall. iv. 407.
This is fer war than ony payn of hell, At thus with wrang thir dewillis suld bruk our land
a1500 Seven S. 961.
This samyn sample beis on ȝow sene, Ȝone devill ȝour son bot ȝe put dovne

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"Devil n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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