- Medieval Demonology. one of the seven chief devils and the tempter of Faust.
- a devil in medieval mythology and the one to whom Faust sold his soul in the Faust legend
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;” cf. Job xiii:4). Klein writes that the names of devils in the Middle Ages “are in most cases derived from Hebrew.” In the drama Faust by Goethe, a devil who tempts Faust into selling his soul to the powers of darkness. Mephistopheles also appears, with his name spelled Mephistophilis, in the sixteenth-century English play Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe.