The Devil Incarnate: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 24, 2023

The phrase "the devil incarnate" refers to a person who is extremely wicked or cruel. It highlights the extreme nature of someone's evil actions or behavior.

In short:

"The devil incarnate" means that a person is extremely evil, similar to the devil in terms of cruelty and wickedness.

What Does "The Devil Incarnate" Mean?

The idiom "the devil incarnate" suggests someone whose behavior is so vicious or cruel that it resembles the devil. If you describe someone as the devil incarnate, you are expressing extreme disapproval or criticism of their actions or behavior.

Key aspects of the idiom's meaning include:

  • Indicates extreme wickedness or evil
  • Associated with malicious actions or harmful intent
  • Represents a person who causes immense harm or suffering

Where Does "The Devil Incarnate" Come From?

The phrase has roots in religious texts, where the devil is often depicted as the embodiment of evil. The term "incarnate" comes from Latin and means "made flesh," suggesting that this wickedness has taken human form.

Historical Example

"I vow to God, she is sometimes so intolerable, that I almost think she's the devil incarnate, come to torment me for my sins; and yet I am conscious of no sins that ought to entail such family plagues upon me--why the devil should I not shake off these torments at once?

- The Miscellaneous Works of Tobias Smollet, 1806

10 Examples of "The Devil Incarnate" in Sentences

Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:

  • "To each his own," he said nonchalantly, even though his friend seemed to be turning into the devil incarnate.
  • People in the town feared him as they considered him the devil incarnate.
  • She began to fall out of love with the man she once thought was perfect, realizing he was the devil incarnate.
  • When she learned about his cruel actions, she called him the devil incarnate.
  • If the devil incarnate bothers you again, just ping me, and I'll help you handle it.
  • It seemed to the townspeople that the corrupt mayor was the devil incarnate.
  • He was freeballing through life without any moral restrictions, acting like the devil incarnate.
  • The infamous dictator was often referred to as the devil incarnate.
  • They believed that their neighbor, with his constant mischief, was the devil incarnate.
  • Sorry to hear that your boss is behaving like the devil incarnate.

Examples of "The Devil Incarnate" in Pop Culture

The phrase "the devil incarnate" often appears in media that deal with stories of evil or wicked characters, such as horror movies, thrillers, and drama series.

Some examples include:

  • In 2013, a horror movie called "The Devil Incarnate" was released. The film tells the tale of a pair of newlyweds who stumble upon the remnants of an old curse, inadvertently reviving its sinister heritage.
  • "Even the religions no longer seem to have the Devil incarnate" is a quote from Vilem Flusser's "The History of the Devil."

Other/Different Ways to Say "The Devil Incarnate"

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "the devil incarnate."

Some of these include:

  • Very wicked
  • Evil personified
  • As bad as the devil
  • Monstrously evil
  • Diabolically cruel

You can use these alternatives interchangeably depending on the context and the level of wickedness or cruelty involved.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "The Devil Incarnate"

  • What does "the devil incarnate" mean?

"The devil incarnate" is a phrase used to describe someone who is extremely wicked or cruel, akin to the devil himself.

  • How can I use "the devil incarnate" in a sentence?

It can be used in any context where you wish to express extreme disapproval of someone's actions or behavior due to their cruelty or wickedness.

  • Where does the idiom "the devil incarnate" come from?

The phrase originates from religious texts where the devil is depicted as the embodiment of evil. The term "incarnate" implies this evil has taken a human form.

  • Does the phrase "the devil incarnate" have the same meaning as "devilish"?

While both terms suggest evil or wickedness, "the devil incarnate" is significantly stronger and implies a person is the embodiment of evil, not merely possessing devilish traits.

  • Can I use the idiom "the devil incarnate" to describe a situation?

Generally, "the devil incarnate" is used to describe people rather than situations. However, it can be used metaphorically to describe a highly distressing or evil situation.

  • Is it offensive to call someone "the devil incarnate"?

Given its strong negative connotation, it could be considered offensive and disrespectful to call someone "the devil incarnate" unless used in a clearly hyperbolic or humorous context.

  • Can you use the term in everyday conversation?

The phrase isn't commonly used in casual conversation due to its strength, but it might appear in literature, drama, or in contexts where strong condemnation is needed.

  • Can you use "the devil incarnate" in academic writing?

Given its highly emotive and figurative nature, "the devil incarnate" is typically avoided in academic writing, which generally favors more neutral and precise language.

  • Does the idiom "the devil incarnate" carry religious implications?

Originally, yes. The idiom draws on religious imagery of the devil as the embodiment of evil. However, in modern usage, it's often used more generally to describe anyone extremely wicked, regardless of religious context.

  • Is there a difference between "the devil incarnate" and "a devil in disguise"?

Yes, while both phrases relate to evilness, "the devil incarnate" suggests a person is openly wicked or cruel. "A devil in disguise," on the other hand, implies someone appears good or innocent but is secretly wicked or harmful.

Final Thoughts About "The Devil Incarnate"

To wrap it up, the idiom "the devil incarnate" is used to describe extreme wickedness or evil. It is a way of expressing severe disapproval or criticism of someone's actions or behavior.

Key aspects of the phrase:

  • Represents the embodiment of wickedness or cruelty
  • Indicates a person or entity that acts with extreme malice
  • It has a strong negative connotation and is suitable for various contexts

Remember that the idiom expresses a strong condemnation of a person's behavior or actions. It should, therefore, be used with caution and primarily in contexts where such strong disapproval is warranted.

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