"return one accusation with another, charge an accuser with a like crime," c. 1600, from Medieval Latin recriminatus, past participle of recriminari "to make charges against," from Latin re- "back, again" (see re-) + criminari "to accuse," from crimen (genitive criminis) "a charge" (see crime). Related: Recriminated; recriminating.
"to inform against, betray one's accomplices," 1560s (earlier pechen, "to accuse, indict, bring to trial," c. 1400), a shortening of appeach, empeach, obsolete variants of impeach. For form, compare peal (v.), also Middle English pelour "an accuser," from appellour. Related: Peached; peaching; peacher.
c. 1400, prevaricatour, "transgressor of the law," a sense now obsolete, from Old French prevaricator and directly from Latin praevaricator "sham accuser; unfaithful advocate," agent noun from past participle stem of praevaricari "to make a sham accusation, deviate" (from the path of duty), literally "walk crookedly" (see prevaricate). "At Cambridge Univ: An orator who made a jocose or satirical speech at Commencement" [OED] (1610s). Fem. form prevaricatrice is attested from c. 1500. Main modern meaning "one who acts or speaks so as to evade the strict truth" is from 1640s.
"a long, rambling discourse; incoherent harangue," 1736, apparently from an altered, Kentish colloquial survival of ragman roll "long list, roster, or catalogue" (c. 1500). The origins of this are in Middle English rageman "document recording accusations or offenses," also "an accuser" (late 13c.). For this, Middle English Compendium compares Old Norse rogs-maðr "a slanderer," from older *vrogs-mannr. With folk-etymology alterations along the way.
By late 14c. rageman was the name of a game involving a long roll of verses, each descriptive of personal character or appearance. In Anglo-French c. 1300 Ragemon le bon, "Ragemon the good," is the heading on one set of verses, suggesting a characterization. The sense was transferred to "foolish activity or commotion" generally by 1939.
1530s (in Latin form sycophanta), "informer, talebearer, slanderer," from French sycophante and directly from Latin sycophanta, from Greek sykophantes "false accuser, slanderer," literally "one who shows the fig," from sykon "fig" (see fig) + phainein "to show" (from PIE root *bha- (1) "to shine").
"Showing the fig" was a vulgar gesture made by sticking the thumb between two fingers, a display which vaguely resembles a fig, itself symbolic of a vagina (sykon also meant "vulva"). The modern accepted explanation is that prominent politicians in ancient Greece held aloof from such inflammatory gestures, but privately urged their followers to taunt their opponents. The sense of "mean, servile flatterer" is first recorded in English 1570s.
The explanation, long current, that it orig. meant an informer against the unlawful exportation of figs cannot be substantiated. [OED]
Old English deofol "a devil, a subordinate evil spirit afflicting humans;" also, in Christian theology, "the Devil, a powerful spirit of evil otherwise known as Satan," from Late Latin diabolus (also the source of Italian diavolo, French diable, Spanish diablo; German Teufel is Old High German tiufal, from Latin via Gothic diabaulus).
The Late Latin word is from Ecclesiastical Greek diabolos, which in Jewish and Christian use was "the Devil, Satan," and which in general use meant "accuser, slanderer" (thus it was a scriptural loan-translation of Hebrew satan; see Satan). It is an agent noun from Greek diaballein "to slander, attack," literally "to throw across," from dia "across, through" (see dia-) + ballein "to throw" (from PIE root *gwele- "to throw, reach").
Jerome re-introduced Satan in Latin bibles, and English translators have used both words in different measures. In Vulgate, as in Greek, diabolus and dæmon (see demon) were distinct, but they have merged in English and other Germanic languages.
Meaning "false god, heathen god" is from c. 1200. Sense of "diabolical person, person resembling a devil or demon in character" is from late 12c. Playful use for "clever rogue" is from c. 1600. As an expletive and in expletive phrases from c. 1200.
Meaning "sand spout, dust storm" is from 1835 (dust devil is attested by 1867). In U.S. place names, the word often represents a native word such as Algonquian manito, more properly "spirit, god." Phrase a devil way (c. 1300) was originally "Hell-ward, to Hell," but by late 14c. it was a mere expression of irritation. Meaning "errand-boy in a printing office" is from 1680s, perhaps because they were often blackened by the ink (devils then being popularly supposed to be black).
Devil's books "playing cards" is from 1729, but the cited quote says they've been called that "time out of mind" (the four of clubs is the devil's bedposts); devil's coach-horse is from 1840, the large rove-beetle, which is defiant when disturbed. Devil's food cake (1895; three different recipes in the cookbook "compiled by the Ladies' Aid Society of the Friends' Church, Wilmington, Ohio"), rich and chocolate, probably is in deliberate contrast to angel food cake. Conventional phrase talk (or speak)of the Devil, and he's presently at your elbow is by 1660s.