bale·​ful | \ ˈbāl-fəl \

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 \ adverb
balefulness \ ˈbāl-​fəl-​nəs \ 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 baleful equilibrium is punctuated, when control of the various branches aligns, by spurts of partisan lawmaking. The Economist, "America’s electoral system gives the Republicans advantages over Democrats," 12 July 2018 Like several other baleful developments in U.S. public life, the potential misuse of the foreign agent registration law parallels developments in Russia. Evan Halper,, "Is that environmental group a pawn of Beijing? Nonprofits wary of being branded 'foreign agents'," 14 June 2018 Which helps explain the title, which can be read in joyous terms or baleful, of that colorful picture glowingly commanding the room. Charles Desmarais, San Francisco Chronicle, "Talepasand takes on pleasure, religion and Iran at Jack Fischer Gallery," 5 June 2018 Many of the Trump presidency’s baleful aspects have little to do with the man himself. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Jared Kushner’s Prison-Reform Push Gains Steam in the House," 25 Apr. 2018 Why should our government endorse their baleful example by following it? Joe Davidson, Washington Post, "Trump’s aides defend pay freeze and retirement cuts, but raise questions," 10 May 2018 Plus, there would be that litany of baleful side-effect disclaimers. Steve Salerno, WSJ, "In the War on Cancer, Truth Becomes a Casualty," 20 Apr. 2018 He and his voice have been described as aloof, eerily neutral, silky, wheedling, controlled, baleful, unisex, droll, soft, conversational, dreamy, supremely calm and rational. Gerry Flahive, New York Times, "The Story of a Voice: HAL in ‘2001’ Wasn’t Always So Eerily Calm," 30 Mar. 2018 The author, arguably Britain’s leading academic strategist, examines how ideas about how future wars could be fought have shaped the reality, with usually baleful results. The Economist, "The best-laid plansOptimism has made wars likelier and bloodier," 12 Oct. 2017

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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Dictionary Entries near baleful


baleen whale




bale out

baler bag

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Time Traveler for baleful

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

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English Language Learners Definition of baleful

: threatening harm or evil
: harmful or deadly

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More from Merriam-Webster on baleful

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with baleful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for baleful

Spanish Central: Translation of baleful

Nglish: Translation of baleful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of baleful for Arabic Speakers

Comments on baleful

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


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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