1. Theology. the spirit of evil personified; the devil; Satan.
  2. (in Milton’s Paradise Lost) one of the fallen angels.


  1. a demon mentioned frequently in apocalyptic literature: identified in the Christian tradition with the devil or Satan
  2. (in the Old Testament and rabbinical literature) worthlessness or wickedness

early 13c., from Hebrew bel’yya’al “destruction,” literally “worthless,” from b’li “without” + ya’al “use.” Wickedness as an evil force (Deut. xiii:13); later treated as a proper name for Satan (2 Cor. vi:15), though Milton made him one of the fallen angels.

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