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 balefully (audio) \ adverb
balefulness \ ˈbāl-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce balefulness (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 The Federalists tended to attribute a baleful motive to any Republican criticism—and vice versa. Brenda Wineapple, The New York Review of Books, "Our First Authoritarian Crackdown," 17 June 2020 As a rule, someone whose failings were subordinate to their claim to greatness should stay, whereas someone whose main contribution to history was baleful should go. The Economist, "Reckoning with the past How to handle racists’ statues," 11 June 2020 The formula: Skeptical, modern-minded innocent visits isolated manse, meets ghost; a baleful destiny ensues. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "The Woman in Black," 23 Jan. 2020 Ridding the world of a baleful individual and forcing Iran to curb its aggression really would be worthwhile achievements. The Economist, "Masterstroke or madness? Donald Trump wants to curb Iran. Has he gone about it the right way?," 9 Jan. 2020 To be constantly watchful for the baleful effects of toxic masculinity? Rich Lowry, National Review, "The Treason of the Elites," 24 Oct. 2019 No wonder people turn such baleful eyes on the bloodless lumps of beans and grain brought into their midst. Wired, "I'm a Vegetarian—Will I Eat Lab-Grown Meat?," 27 Nov. 2019 But the film belongs to Chapman and more than anyone, MacKay, a 27-year-old Londoner with the long bones and baleful eyes of a porcelain saint or a lost Caulkin brother. Leah Greenblatt,, "Sam Mendes' breathtaking 1917 is a new kind of WWI movie: Review," 25 Nov. 2019 There's no room for a baleful Bozo when our most sane clown may be the dancing one killing children in Derry and our most insane clowns have formed a posse. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: The End of 'Baskets' and the Struggle of Loving Niche TV," 22 Aug. 2019

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

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Baleful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for baleful


How to pronounce baleful (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of baleful

: threatening harm or evil
: harmful or deadly

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More from Merriam-Webster on baleful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for baleful

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with baleful

Spanish Central: Translation of baleful

Nglish: Translation of baleful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of baleful for Arabic Speakers

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