Is Devil Capitalized? (Do You Capitalize the Word Devil)

As a Sunday School teacher and minister, I regularly give them homework to work on during the week. Well, recently, I noticed something interesting. So many kids don’t know if, when, or where to capitalize the word ‘devil.’ It’s not just the young ones, though. Even the older preteens improperly capitalize the word. When I lightly mentioned this to my fellow minister, Pastor Ken, he said he encounters the same problem! Even in adults! Luckily, that’s where spiritual leaders like me can come in. We will answer the question: is ‘devil’ capitalized?

Depending on how the word ‘devil’ is used in a sentence, it may or may not be capitalized. If it is used as a proper noun, it has a capital ‘d’, whereas if it is contextually a common noun, it does not.

To finally put an end to the debate on whether or not ‘devil’ is capitalized, I wrote this insightful article. It has all the information you need to understand how to appropriately capitalize the word. I also gave good examples on the subject and provided helpful linked resources. After reading this, you won’t ever be confused when writing the word ever again!

Is Devil a Common Noun or a Proper Noun?

According to the Collins Dictionary, ‘devil’ can be both a common and a proper noun. In the English language, common nouns refer to general items or things like ‘city,’ ‘carpenter,’ and ‘river,’ while proper nouns are specific and identify specific items or people. For example, ‘Daisy’ and ‘Boston.’ Typically, proper nouns are capitalized, and common pronouns are not. Considering the word ‘devil,’ it may be deemed both a common noun and a proper noun. This is because it refers to both a specific, powerful evil spirit in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and, alternatively, can be used as a generic name for an evil spirit or state. It all depends on the context within which it is used.

Should the D in Devil Be Capitalized?

Is Devil Capitalized?
Should the D in Devil Be Capitalized? Image source: Pinterest

Depending on the context of the English sentence it is used in, the ‘d’ in ‘devil’ may or may not be capitalized. This is according to sources such as Merriam-Webster. If the sentence is referring to general evil beings, it is not capitalized, but if it is referring to Lucifer or Satan as understood within spirituality, it is capitalized. To illustrate, in a sentence like “Hannah acts like such a devil at times,” the word features as a common noun and does not need to be capitalized. But in a sentence like “the Devil has been working against me,” it is identifying Satan. The D in ‘devil’ should, therefore, be capitalized.

Why Is Devil Capitalized in Major Bible Translations?

It is propounded by English scholars that the Devil is capitalized in many major Bible translations because the word is primarily used as a proper noun. It refers to a specific evil spiritual entity – Satan. If it was a generic name identifying any evil being out there, the word would not be capitalized. These are more rules of English than Christianity.

Why Does the KJV Capitalize ‘Devil’ In Revelation but Not in Luke?

Do You Capitalize the Word Devil?
Capitalization of ‘Devil’ In Revelation. Image source: Pixabay

When looking at the KJV Bible version, the same English language principles are used to explain why the ‘d’ in ‘devil’ is capitalized in the Book of Revelation while in the Book of Luke, it isn’t. Common pronouns are not capitalized, but proper nouns are. With that in mind, KJV Bibles do not capitalize most instances of the word ‘devil’ since it is largely used as a simple noun like ‘father.’ Other versions of the Bible, however, take a different approach and capitalize the word in most occurrences. Compare the various translations in Luke 4:2.

Alternatively, in verses such as Revelation 12:9 in the KJV Bible, the ‘devil’ is capital. It reads, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.” It also has ‘the’ before ‘devil,’ indicating that it is a name.

Is Capitalizing the Devil Honoring the Devil?

No. Many Bible interpreters, including The Wartburg Project, believe capitalizing ‘devil’ is not honoring him. They see it as a way of simply recognizing his title. All named Biblical figures are capitalized, and the Devil is no different. Also, if it appears as a proper noun in the Holy Book making, it only grammatically correct to put a capital ‘d’. Another school of thought is that ‘Satan,’ his Hebrew name, is capitalized, so his Greek name, the ‘Devil,’ should be too. Both started as common nouns but are now titles used to refer to a specific entity.

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