devil of a

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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).
See also: devil, of

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!
See also: devil, of

a/the ˈdevil of a job, nuisance, fellow, etc.

(old-fashioned) a difficult or an unpleasant example of something: We’re going to have a devil of a job getting the roots of that tree out of the ground.
See also: devil, of
References in classic literature ?
If there's one devil that I should like to see in the bottomless pit more than another, it's the drink devil.
As One Devil to Another" is a unique work from Richard Platt, renown scholar on literary legend C.
Lemon soared out in front of heat 13 pursued by Barker, but as the number one Devil angled for a pass up on bend three he got into trouble and fell, and while he remounted he was too far back to make an impression in the Newcastle 4-2.
The result: Cancer cells from one devil can survive in others (see How the Devil's Cancer Catches, below).
There is a saying - only one devil can recognise the other.
But there is no escaping the fact that, for the vast majority of students, university life is still going to be one devil of a lesson in how to make ends meet.
Their dad's problem was he'd knock one devil out of them and knock seven devils in.
The Tasmanian devil, a cranky carnivore that resembles a bear cub with a long, bushy tail, is suffering from what is called devil facial tumor disease, a mysterious cancer that is transferred when one devil bites another.
Sophisticated, needy, angry, predatory, protective, possessive, witty, wicked, suicidal, selfish -- these are just some of the traits Moore expertly isolates and illuminates, then combines into one devil of a multifarious whole.
Located in the top box are ten balls including one Devil ball (zero award) and 9 with pay values (20-500).
They thought 12 witches and one devil would me et on that day, making Friday and the No 13 a cursed combination.
Christian beliefs also held that 12 witches plus one devil are present at satanic ceremonies, so the combination of Friday and 13 must mean real trouble.
Wickedness gets into the news: it is easier and more conspicuous than goodness -- one devil can destroy a skyscraper that it took a lot of men to build -- but it hasn't won yet and there is much more goodness about.
It was certainly no longer necessary for even that one devil on the high pillar to maintain an active presence in the market-place.
And this is one devil dog story that deserves to have a happy ending