• noun a detective. This probably originated in the simple abbreviation D, which then passed via ‘d-man’ to demon. The word is fairly rare; when it does occur it is often in the plural form.
  • symbolD


  • synonymdaemon

Origin & History of “demon”

English acquired this word from Latin in two forms, classical Latin daemōn and medieval Latin dēmōn, which were once used fairly interchangeably for ‘evil spirit’ but have now split apart. Demon retains the sense ‘evil spirit’, but this was in fact a relatively late semantic development. Greek daímōn (source of Latin daemōn) meant ‘divine power, fate, god’ (it is probably related to Greek daíomai ‘distribute, allot’, which comes from an Indo-European base whose descendants include English tide and time). It was used in Greek myths as a term for a minor deity, and it was also applied to a ‘guiding spirit’ (senses now usually denoted by daemon in English). It seems to be from this latter usage that the sense ‘evil spirit’ (found in the Greek Septuagint and New testament and in the Latin Vulgate) arose.