1590s, the evil spirit to whom Faust sold his soul in the German legend, from German (1587), of unknown origin. According to the speculation of eminent Göthe scholar K.J. Schröer (1886) it is a compound of Hebrew mephitz "destroyer" + tophel "liar" (short for tophel sheqer, literally "falsehood plasterer;" see Job xiii.4). Klein writes that the names of devils in the Middle Ages "are in most cases derived from Hebrew."
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