to torment or harass maliciously or diabolically, as with doubts, distractions, or worries.
to possess, as with a devil; bewitch.
to cause confusion or doubt in; muddle; confound:
an issue bedeviled by prejudices.
to beset or hamper continuously:
a new building bedeviled by elevator failures.
Contemporary Examples

And the rifts produced by the idea-besotted ’60s continue to bedevil us.
The Intellectual Crash of 2009 Lee Siegel March 24, 2009

Matthew Yglesias on how President Obama can woo back liberals, bedevil the GOP—and change the outcome this fall.
How to Win 2010 Matthew Yglesias January 9, 2010

Historical Examples

Paul Kelpy, thou wert an honest cut-throat, to bedevil so good a house: we turn it to account—ha, ha!
Rob of the Bowl, Vol. I (of 2) John P. Kennedy

Which, by the same token, presently lost track of him entirely, and wandered off to find and bedevil some other poor devil.
The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance

What’s become of that little boot-black that you used to bedevil?
Gabriel Conroy Bert Harte

Of all the vegetables calculated to bedevil human beings, he decided, growing corn was the worst.
The Duck-footed Hound James Arthur Kjelgaard

I’ve been listening to you trying to bedevil that man out there, but I’m afraid your humor is a little on the slap-stick order.
Wide Courses James Brendan Connolly

This contract in a very few years arose to bedevil the railroad situation in the North Country.
The Story of the Rome, Watertown, and Ogdensburg RailRoad Edward Hungerford

And I love him for it, although I believe I do like to bedevil him a little.
The Prairie Wife Arthur Stringer

verb (transitive) -ils, -illing, -illed (US) -ils, -iling, -iled
to harass or torment
to throw into confusion
to possess, as with a devil

1768, “to treat diabolically, abuse,” from be- + verbal use of devil (q.v.). Meaning “to mischievously confuse” is from 1755; that of “to drive frantic” is from 1823. Related: Bedeviled (1570s, in a literal sense, “possessed”); bedeviling.


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  • Bedight

    to deck out; array. Historical Examples Their little souls were white as new-fallen snow and bedight with indulgences and prayers. The Path of Life Stijn Streuvels For thy coat of mail, bedight In thy spotless robe of white. Rienzi Edward Bulwer Lytton Then went with her thither / full many a beauteous maid, A hundred […]

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    to make dim; darken; obscure. Historical Examples Then her face flushed, and a warm cloud seemed to bedim her eyes. Wild Youth, Volume Complete Gilbert Parker He cast his eyes on that rider,—but one glance was enough to bedim his eye-sight, if not to scare away his reason. The Three Perils of Man, Vol. 1 […]

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    to dress or adorn in a showy, gaudy, or tasteless manner. Historical Examples If Julia Cunningham chooses to bedizen herself in it, she is welcome to it—flounces and all. At Last Marion Harland When I was young they died for that with which they now bedizen themselves.’ Hypatia Charles Kingsley Prithee, young one, who art […]

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