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 Lockdown policies had baleful effects on local economies, families and children, and the virus spread anyway. Scott W. Atlas, WSJ, "A Pandemic of Misinformation," 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, "‘McCartney III’ by Paul McCartney Review: Songs From a Homebound Beatle," 15 Dec. 2020 Mr Martin expresses another concern: that Western cyber armouries might be raided, with baleful consequences for civilian digital infrastructure. The Economist, "Use the force Britain puts a new offensive cyber force at the heart of its defence," 1 Dec. 2020 Mr Trump has had a baleful effect on America’s domestic and foreign policy. The Economist, "US 2020 story collection Trump, Biden and the presidential election," 2 Nov. 2020 But the famed libertarian economist’s baleful legacy doesn’t end there: Friedman’s ideas about monetary policy have long created negative economic consequences. Bruce Bartlett, The New Republic, "The Libertarian Ideas That Wrecked the Fed," 21 Sep. 2020 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

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

23 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Baleful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce baleful (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of baleful

: threatening harm or evil
: harmful or deadly

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