Also found in: Thesaurus.


 (dĕv′əl-trē) or dev·il·ry (-əl-rē)
n. pl. dev·il·tries or dev·il·ries
1. Reckless mischief.
2. Extreme cruelty; wickedness.
3. Evil magic; witchcraft.
4. An act of mischief, cruelty, or witchcraft.

[Alteration (influenced by such words as gallantry) of devilry.]


(ˈdɛv əl tri)

n., pl. -tries.
1. mischievous behavior.
2. extreme or utter wickedness.
3. an act or instance of mischievous or wicked behavior.
4. diabolic magic or art.
[1780–90; variant of devilry]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.deviltry - wicked and cruel behavior
evil, wickedness, immorality, iniquity - morally objectionable behavior
2.deviltry - reckless or malicious behavior that causes discomfort or annoyance in othersdeviltry - reckless or malicious behavior that causes discomfort or annoyance in others
misbehavior, misbehaviour, misdeed - improper or wicked or immoral behavior
blaze, hell - noisy and unrestrained mischief; "raising blazes"
monkey business - mischievous or deceitful behavior
hooliganism, malicious mischief, vandalism - willful wanton and malicious destruction of the property of others


1. Annoying yet harmless, usually playful acts:
Informal: shenanigan (often used in plural).
References in classic literature ?
The mean and low, yet strangely man-like expression of his wilted countenance; the prying and crafty glance, that showed him ready to gripe at every miserable advantage; his enormous tail (too enormous to be decently concealed under his gabardine), and the deviltry of nature which it betokened,--take this monkey just as he was, in short, and you could desire no better image of the Mammon of copper coin, symbolizing the grossest form of the love of money.
We judged they was studying up some kind of worse deviltry than ever.
They tell me that some of our community are to be here from Falmouth and beyond, and others from Connecticut and Rhode Island, besides several of the Indian powwows, who, after their fashion, know almost as much deviltry as the best of us.
When it don't go astray for a long time, they get suspicious and throttle it anyhow, because they think it is hatching deviltry.
He was half hidden by a davit, so that two men who approached along the deck did not see him, and as they passed Tarzan caught enough of their conversation to cause him to fall in behind them, to follow and learn what deviltry they were up to.
Little Gazan ceased to insult him; his expression of deviltry changed to one of apprehension, which was quickly followed by fear as Toog commenced to ascend toward him.
Back in West Kensington a rich smell of dinner would be floating through the flat; the cook, watching the boiling cabbage, would be singing A Few More Years Shall Roll; her mother would be sighing; and her little brother Percy would be employed upon some juvenile deviltry, the exact nature of which it was not possible to conjecture, though one could be certain that it would be something involving a deafening noise.
The greatest schemer of all time, the organizer of every deviltry, the controlling brain of the underworld, a brain which might have made or marred the destiny of nations--that's the man
Some deviltry is intended against one Douglas, whoever he may be, residing as stated, a rich country gentleman.
You'd like to think of some new deviltry with which to harass your friend Ross, the editor of Word Ways, but what?
But the didacticism is turned upside down, entirely subsumed by, and in service to, the fiction of deviltry.
The world has been able to endure the horrible tale by deliberately stopping its ears while the deviltry went on.