bale·​ful | \ ˈbāl-fəl How to pronounce baleful (audio) \

Definition of baleful

1 : deadly or pernicious in influence baleful effects
2 : foreboding or threatening evil gave him a baleful look

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Other Words from baleful

balefully \ ˈbāl-​fə-​lē How to pronounce baleful (audio) \ adverb
balefulness \ ˈbāl-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce baleful (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for baleful

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

Examples of baleful in a Sentence

the baleful effects of water pollution a dark, baleful sky portending a tornado
Recent Examples on the Web These discriminations and the attitudes behind them, Anderson charges, have generated a baleful catalog of affronts that predate the establishment of the United States and that grow apace. New York Times, 28 May 2021 We will be reminded that delivering the nation from the baleful legacy of a one-term Republican in the midst of a national crisis with an urgent flurry of executive and legislative initiatives is what Democrats do. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 26 Apr. 2021 Maila’s baleful stare, not at all reminiscent of sirens immemorial, also was meant to unnerve viewers. oregonlive, 15 Apr. 2021 The fact that this worry appears closer to being borne out under the Biden administration gives us no comfort, because the price will be a less capable and combat-ready fighting force, with potentially baleful consequences. The Editors, National Review, 16 Mar. 2021 On the other hand, though, the heritage idea can succumb to a far more baleful pattern of rendering widely divergent modes of experience and change in terms that are essentializing, if not flatly racist. Adolph Reed Jr., The New Republic, 17 Feb. 2021 Lockdown policies had baleful effects on local economies, families and children, and the virus spread anyway. Scott W. Atlas, WSJ, 21 Dec. 2020 The lockdown is not overtly mentioned in the album’s 11 songs, but its influence is felt, along with that of climate change and other baleful issues. Allan Kozinn, WSJ, 15 Dec. 2020 Mr Martin expresses another concern: that Western cyber armouries might be raided, with baleful consequences for civilian digital infrastructure. The Economist, 1 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'baleful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of baleful

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of baleful was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

4 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Baleful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for baleful



English Language Learners Definition of baleful

: threatening harm or evil
: harmful or deadly


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