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Evil vs. Devil: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 23, 2023
Evil is a concept denoting profound immorality and wickedness, while the devil is a specific supernatural entity often associated with temptation and malevolence in various religions.

Key Differences

Evil is a broad term used to describe actions, thoughts, or conditions that are morally wrong or wicked. In contrast, the devil is often personified as a figure in religious beliefs, symbolizing the embodiment of evil and temptation.
The concept of evil can be subjective, varying across cultures and moral systems, and is not confined to any single entity. The devil, however, is typically depicted as a singular being in many religious traditions, known for deceiving and leading humans astray.
Evil encompasses a range of negative behaviors and qualities, from harm and suffering to corruption and injustice. The devil, in various religious texts, is portrayed as a cunning and malevolent force actively working to promote these evils.
Philosophically, evil is often discussed in the context of ethics and morality, addressing the nature of bad actions or intentions. The devil, conversely, is rooted in theology and mythology, representing a supernatural antagonist to good.
In literature and art, evil is depicted through various symbols and themes, reflecting human struggles with morality. The devil frequently appears as a character or symbol, personifying the ultimate evil and moral corruption.

Comparison Chart


Abstract concept
Personified entity


Moral wrongness or wickedness
A specific malevolent being

Cultural Variance

Varies in interpretation
Often consistent in depiction

Usage in Language

Used more broadly
Specific to religious contexts

Literal vs Symbolic

Can be both literal and symbolic
Primarily symbolic and personified

Evil and Devil Definitions


Causing pain or distress.
The evil of poverty affects millions worldwide.


A supernatural being symbolizing evil.
The devil is often depicted with horns and a tail.


Profoundly immoral and wicked.
The dictator's actions were considered pure evil.


An evil spirit or demon.
The story spoke of a devil haunting the abandoned house.


Morally reprehensible.
Lying for personal gain is an evil act.


Used to express surprise or annoyance.
What the devil is going on here?


A force opposing good.
In many stories, heroes fight against the forces of evil.


A tempter or deceiver in religious texts.
The devil tempted him to forsake his morals.


Harmful or disastrous.
The hurricane left a trail of evil in its wake.


A wicked or cunning person.
He was known as the devil of the racing circuit for his tricks.


Morally bad or wrong; wicked
An evil tyrant.


Often Devil In many religions, the major personified spirit of evil, ruler of Hell, and foe of God. Used with the.


Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful
The evil effects of a poor diet.


A subordinate evil spirit; a demon.


Who is the devil in religious context?

The devil is a malevolent supernatural being in various religions.

Is the devil always depicted the same way?

Depictions of the devil vary, but common traits include temptation and malevolence.

Can evil exist without religious implications?

Yes, evil can be a secular concept of morality and ethics.

Do all stories about the devil portray him as evil?

While typically evil, some stories and interpretations vary in their depiction.

Do all cultures have a concept of evil?

Most cultures have some concept of evil, though its interpretation varies.

Is evil always intentional?

Evil can be both intentional and unintentional, depending on context.

What is the basic definition of evil?

Evil refers to profound immorality and wickedness.

Does belief in the devil require religious faith?

Belief in the devil often, but not always, aligns with religious beliefs.

Are there different types of evil?

Yes, evil can be categorized, such as natural evil or moral evil.

Is the devil a universal figure in all religions?

The devil is prominent in many, but not all, religious traditions.

Can people be described as evil?

Yes, individuals can be described as evil based on their actions or intentions.

Is the devil always a male figure?

While often male, some cultures and stories depict the devil as genderless or female.

Is the devil a part of folklore?

The devil appears in many folklores, sometimes with different names and attributes.

Does the devil have any positive connotations?

Rarely, but some interpretations may view the devil as a symbol of rebellion.

What role does the devil play in literature?

In literature, the devil often represents temptation, evil, or a challenge to overcome.

Can evil be subjective?

Perceptions of evil can vary greatly based on personal or cultural morals.

How do philosophers define evil?

Philosophers debate evil, often focusing on ethics, morality, and human nature.

Can the devil be a metaphor?

Yes, the devil often serves as a metaphor for temptation or moral struggle.

How is evil addressed in law?

Legal systems address actions deemed evil through criminal justice.

Can evil be eradicated?

Many strive to reduce evil, but its complete eradication is a complex, debated topic.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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