The word diabolic itself derives from the Greek word diaballo meaning to “pass beyond” or “over”, from the root dia – “through” and, as a causal accusative, “with the aid of”. Later, diaballo acquired a moral sense – for example “to set against” (Aristotle) although it was sometimes used (as diabolos) when a ‘bad’ or ‘false’ sense was meant, as for example, a false accusation.
Later still, diabolos became “devil” or “The Devil” in the sense of Nazarene theology.
The early forms of the English word devil are regarded as deriving from the Gothic (e.g. the Old English divul) ‘diabaulus’ which came from the Latin ‘diabolus’. However, the Old English ‘deofel’ and kindred words like the Old Frisian ‘diovel’ could possibly be derived from the suffix ‘fel’, a variant of ‘fell’ meaning fierce, savage, wild. Then the original form, e.g. ‘deofel’, would mean the ‘fierce/ savage/ wild’ god. There is some justification for the use of the Latin prefix in this manner – e.g. ‘deodand’, which occurs in 12th century English. It is interesting in this context that ‘fell’ (from the Latin ‘fello’) was often used to describe both a wild, fierce person (such as an outlaw) and a brave man or warrior. Much later, the word passed into general usage as ‘felon’ – with a moral sense.
This is often regarded as from the Hebrew, meaning accuser. However, the Hebrew is itself derived from the Greek aitia – “an accusation” – qv. Aeschylus: aitiau ekho. The Greek form became corrupted to the Hebrew ‘Satan’ – whence also ‘Shaitan’. In Greek of the classical period aitia and diabole were often used for the same thing, particularly when a ‘bad’ or ‘false’ sense was required.
The word ‘evil’ derives from the Gothic ‘ubils’ which meant a ‘going beyond’ (the due measure) – and did not have a ‘moral’ sense. Only later (under the influence of Nazarene theology) did it acquire a strict moral sense, and became an abstract absolute.
Order of Nine Angles