bane·​ful ˈbān-fəl How to pronounce baneful (audio)
: productive of destruction or woe : seriously harmful
a baneful influence
archaic : poisonous
banefully adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for baneful

pernicious, baneful, noxious, deleterious, detrimental mean exceedingly harmful.

pernicious implies irreparable harm done through evil or insidious corrupting or undermining.

the claim that pornography has a pernicious effect on society

baneful implies injury through poisoning or destroying.

the baneful notion that discipline destroys creativity

noxious applies to what is both offensive and injurious to the health of a body or mind.

noxious chemical fumes

deleterious applies to what has an often unsuspected harmful effect.

a diet found to have deleterious effects

detrimental implies obvious harmfulness to something specified.

the detrimental effects of excessive drinking

Examples of baneful in a Sentence

The legislation could have a baneful effect on the poor. the baneful consequences of war
Recent Examples on the Web The baneful effects of war on public speech and freedoms in Russia have been well recorded. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 Dec. 2022 The impact these soldiers had on the South was baneful. New York Times, 14 Feb. 2022 To home in on what gives these peculiar primates their baneful bite, Fry and his colleagues collected the underarm secretions from a handful of wild slow lorises housed at a research station in Indonesia and isolated the proteins within. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Feb. 2020 We are mired in a baneful pandemic unlike anything endured for a century, parsing our lives into 14-day increments of health and survival — or not. Peter M. Leschak, Star Tribune, 31 July 2020 This resulted in all the baneful consequences of the French Revolution, which Edmund Burke so brilliantly exposed in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. Jaithirth Rao, Quartz India, 4 Nov. 2019 Chaos convincingly ebbs and flows in this rattling film, a baneful tide lapping at some of history’s most troubled shores. Richard Lawson, HWD, 20 July 2017 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of baneful was in 1566

Dictionary Entries Near baneful

Cite this Entry

“Baneful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


bane·​ful ˈbān-fəl How to pronounce baneful (audio)
: causing destruction or serious harm
a baneful influence
banefully adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on baneful

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