I was at a meeting of friends this morning, when someone in the group used the work “bedevilment.” I’ve probably heard the word used somewhere along the way in my life, but this was the first time I really payed attention to it.
So I decided to do a bit of research to see if my own ideas as to what the word means were on the mark.
Bedevilment is a form of the word “bedevil” and so that is where my research turned:
transitive verb-·iled or -·illed, -·il·ing or -·il·ling
- to plague diabolically; torment; harass
- to possess as with a devil; bewitch
- to confuse completely; muddle
- to corrupt; spoil
Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition Copyright © 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
As a verb, it would seem this word is one with a negative connotation. I can think of several things that might bedevil someone, including another person. If you were to have someone constantly bother you, hurling insults your way, I would say that person is bedevilling you. Certainly not someone you would want to spend any time around.
The second definition takes on a much more serious nature, as it would appear that an actual devil can possess you in much the same way. Thoughts of exorcism immediately come to mind when I think of someone possessed by a devil. Certainly, not an experience any of us would seek out.
The third definition seems less harmful. Someone or something that confuses us completely could be said to be guilty of bedevilment. My dog has recently been escaping from the back yard fenced-in area and it’s been a devilment as to how she’s accomplishing this feat.
The final definition would seem to be one of a serious nature. Corruption is rampant in some parts of society today and the one guilty of such acts would be carrying out bedevilment.” One can picture political cartoons in which some public figure is given horns, a pitchfork, and a tail and termed “the devil.”
So there’s the new word for today. I can promise I’ll be using it any time soon, but it’s good to know it’s there, just in case.