1 of 3

noun (1)

: a source of harm or ruin : curse
national frontiers have been more of a bane than a boon for mankindD. C. Thomson
: death, destruction
… stop the way of those that seek my banePhilip Sidney
: woe
: poison
obsolete : killer, slayer


2 of 3


baned; baning

transitive verb

: to kill especially with poison


3 of 3

noun (2)

chiefly Scotland
: bone

Examples of bane in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
And if dry, stringy turkey has been the bane of your existence, the moist heat of roasting in the bag — more like steaming, really — is a game changer. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, 8 Nov. 2023 Scratching the surface Moondust has been the bane of lunar spacecraft and astronauts for a reason. Elizabeth Rayne, Ars Technica, 27 Oct. 2023 The second-year pitcher then issued the bane of Hinch’s existence: Free passes. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, 7 Sep. 2023 Cellphone use and loud conversations in movie theaters, long the bane of cinephiles, have become the norm, with audience members regularly talking, singing, thumbing through their illuminated social media accounts, taking photos or blatantly making TikTok videos. Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times, 17 Aug. 2023 The bane of any streaming service is churn: subscribers signing up one month to take advantage of a special offer before jettisoning their membership shortly afterwards, often in favor of a rival platform. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 4 Aug. 2023 Abbott's program has proven to be the bane of Democrats at all levels of government, from the White House to mayoral offices in deep blue cities. Anders Hagstrom, Fox News, 5 Sep. 2023 Public restrooms became the bane of my existence: often illogically designed, and with seemingly able-bodied people constantly occupying the accessible stall when others were clearly available. Lexi Pandell, WIRED, 31 Aug. 2023 Advertisement Because curiosity is by nature inclusive, and openness to new ideas or foreign cultures is largely seen as liberal, PBS has long been the bane of conservative politicians, who have a habit of chipping away at its already minuscule federal budget. Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bane.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English, "killer, agent of death, death," going back to Old English bana "killer, agent of death," going back to Germanic *banan- (whence also Old Frisian bana, bona "killer," Old High German bano "killer, murderer," Old Norse bani "murderer, violent death"), of uncertain origin

Note: Another Germanic derivative from the same base is represented by Old English benn (feminine strong noun) "wound, sore," Old Saxon beniwunda, Old Norse ben "wound," Gothic banja "blow, wound." Attempts have been made to derive the etymon from Indo-European *gwhen- "strike, kill" (see defend), but the general view is that initial *gwh could not yield b in Germanic. See further discussion in Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Althochdeutschen, Band 1, pp. 460-61.


derivative of bane entry 1

Noun (2)

early Scots and northern Middle English ban, bane, going back to Old English bān — more at bone entry 1

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2d


1578, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1578, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bane was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near bane

Cite this Entry

“Bane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a source of harm, ruin, or unhappiness
greed is the bane of humanity

Medical Definition


: poison see henbane

More from Merriam-Webster on bane

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