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Halloween Deviltry by Cole Parker


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Obviously, Bobby should not ever be allowed to become a politician. If he can make that kind of deal with the devil, just think what he could do in politics! It's frightening!!

Colin :icon_geek:

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Is Deviltry a word? I think over this side of the big pond we would say Devilry without the T.

Definitions of deviltry from WordWeb:

1. Wicked and cruel behavior

2. Reckless or malicious behavior that causes discomfort or annoyance in others

Of course, with it's nose pointed heavenward, the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language advises:

noun archaic variant of devilry.

Definitions of devilry from the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language:

noun [mass noun] wicked activity: some devilry was afoot.

reckless mischief: a perverse sense of devilry urged her to lead him on.

black magic; dealings with the devil.

(I looked up "mass noun" and it's a noun denoting something that cannot be counted.)

Anyway, mass noun or not, I think that there's enough difference in the definitions that should have both words available, regardless of the ODE's disdain for deviltry — archaic, indeed!

Colin :icon_geek:

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Mm , interesting. I'm with Bruin here. 'Devilry' is the usual word in my experience. I have heard 'Deviltry' used on the odd occasion before but cannot remember the circumstances. If Cole's experience is the other way round...

Québécois is considered derived from 17/18C French and Afrikaans from 17/18C Dutch, American English surely has some roots in 16/17C English. Maybe the usage diverged from that point which is why the OED suggests 'Deviltry' is archaic. Also English spelling was probably still fluid at the time of that divergence.

I have heard it said that if you want to hear the English of Shakespeare you should visit some of the remoter corners of the eastern seaboard of the USA.

Colin makes a good case for both words to exist. It is such subtle differences between meanings of words that makes English such a rich language.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I like this website: http://etymonline.com. I just like to know where words come from. This is what they say under 'devilry':

devilry (n.) dictionary.gif late 14c., from devil + -ry; deviltry (1788) is a corrupt formation from it. English isn't my first language and both devilry and deviltry work for me; corrupt is a bit harsh, isn't it? Languages do develop and deviltry is actually easier to pronounce for me...
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