1794, "recklessly daring person," from dare (v.) + devil (n.). The devil might refer to the person, or the sense might be "one who dares the devil." Compare scarecrow, killjoy, pickpocket (n.), cutthroat, also fear-babe a 16c. word for "something that frightens children;" kill-devil "bad rum." As an adjective, from 1832.
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