a devil of a
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Related to a devil of a: Devil worship
a devil of a job
A difficult or frustrating time; much difficulty. I'm having a devil of a job getting this window open—I think it has been painted shut. We had a devil of a job convincing Grandpa to go to the doctor for that bad cough. I thought that assignment was easy, so I'm surprised to hear you guys had a devil of a job with it.
a devil of a time
A difficult or frustrating time; much difficulty. I'm having a devil of a time getting this window open—I think it has been painted shut. We had a devil of a time convincing Grandpa to go to the doctor for that bad cough. I thought that assignment was easy, so I'm surprised to hear you guys had a devil of a time with it.
a/the devil of a (something)
Used as an intensifier to indicate an extreme degree of something, especially that which is difficult, frustrating, or vexing. I'm having the devil of a time getting this computer to work. Something must be wrong with it. We knew it would be a devil of a job overhauling the entire network, but it was unavoidable. These weeds can become a devil of a nuisance if you let them grow for too long.
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devil of a
Also, one devil or the devil of a ; hell of a. Infernally annoying or difficult, as in This is a devil of an assembly job, or She had one devil of a time getting through the traffic, or I had a hell of a morning sitting in that doctor's office. The first expression dates from the mid-1700s. The variant is a couple of decades newer and its precise meaning depends on the context. For example, We had a hell of a time getting here invariably means we had a very difficult or annoying time, but He is one hell of a driver could mean that he is either very good or very bad (see hell of a, def. 2).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
a (or the) devil of a —something very large or bad of its kind. informal
1919 Katherine Mansfield Letter We had the devil of a great storm last night, lasting for hours, thunder, lightning, rain & I had appalling nightmares!
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