Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

sinister

play
adjective sin·is·ter \ˈsi-nəs-tər, archaic sə-ˈnis-\

Simple Definition of sinister

  • : having an evil appearance : looking likely to cause something bad, harmful, or dangerous to happen

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of sinister

  1. 1 archaic :  unfavorable, unlucky

  2. 2 archaic :  fraudulent

  3. 3 :  singularly evil or productive of evil

  4. 4a :  of, relating to, or situated to the left or on the left side of something; especially :  being or relating to the side of a heraldic shield at the left of the person bearing itb :  of ill omen by reason of being on the left

  5. 5 :  presaging ill fortune or trouble

  6. 6 :  accompanied by or leading to disaster

sinisterly

adverb

sinisterness

noun

Examples of sinister in a sentence

  1. There was something sinister about him.

  2. <the movie relies too much on sinister background music to create the suspense that the plot sorely lacks>



Origin and Etymology of sinister

Middle English sinistre, from Anglo-French senestre on the left, from Latin sinistr-, sinister on the left side, unlucky, inauspicious


First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of sinister

sinister, baleful, malign mean seriously threatening evil or disaster. sinister suggests a general or vague feeling of fear or apprehension on the part of the observer <a sinister aura haunts the place>. baleful imputes perniciousness or destructiveness to something whether working openly or covertly <exerting a corrupt and baleful influence>. malign applies to what is inherently evil or harmful <the malign effects of racism>.

SINISTER Defined for Kids

sinister

play
adjective sin·is·ter \ˈsi-nəs-tər\

Definition of sinister for Students

  1. 1 :  threatening evil, harm, or danger <We heard sinister rumors.>

  2. 2 :  1evil 1, corrupt <We feared he would do something far more sinister.>





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up sinister? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a jerking and twitching of the body

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

two-chairs-on-a-pier-by-the-ocean-in-summer

Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?

brumal estival vernal hiemal
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ