das·​tard·​ly ˈda-stərd-lē How to pronounce dastardly (audio)
: characterized by underhandedness or treachery
a dastardly attack
a dastardly villain
dastardliness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for dastardly

cowardly, pusillanimous, craven, dastardly mean having or showing a lack of courage.

cowardly implies a weak or ignoble lack of courage.

a cowardly failure to stand up for principle

pusillanimous suggests a contemptible lack of courage.

the pusillanimous fear of a future full of possibility

craven suggests extreme defeatism and complete lack of resistance.

secretly despised her own craven yes-men

dastardly often implies behavior that is both cowardly and treacherous or skulking or outrageous.

a dastardly attack on unarmed civilians

Examples of dastardly in a Sentence

a dastardly attack on innocent civilians his dastardly conduct in a critical moment haunted him for the rest of his life
Recent Examples on the Web On the right, this manifests itself in the detection and exposure of dastardly plots in all aspects of American life. Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review, 31 Jan. 2024 Ronald Reagan and Jerry Brown ushered in tuition in the 1970s and 1980s, a dastardly deed. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 15 Jan. 2024 Olivers’s just another dastardly king en route to his castle, corrupted by excess. Raven Smith, Vogue, 3 Jan. 2024 Although its capabilities look pretty cool, in the wrong hands, this device could be dispatched on some dastardly missions. Kurt Knutsson, Cyberguy Report, Fox News, 25 Dec. 2023 Most folks might call this year’s real best picture ‘Barbie,’ a film about an imaginary woman and real-world doll whose agency was plundered by dastardly men. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2023 Ian McKellen plays a 1930s English drama critic who, faced with dismissal from his newspaper, engineers a dastardly plot to reclaim his job. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Sep. 2023 But the backstory Hornby makes up for Anne, featuring a dastardly lawyer, a wise old retainer and a fallen woman, owes more to Charles Dickens than to Austen, and sticklers may find this incongruity detracts from an otherwise sprightly story. Clare McHugh, Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2022 After sharing the novel with her Scroll Club pals, Cinderella suddenly finds herself at the forefront of a full-scale royal rebellion against the dastardly Narrator (Adam Godley), who demands that all roles be performed exactly as written, and their frustratingly outdated folk tales. Emlyn Travis, EW.com, 23 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dastardly.' 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

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dastardly was in 1542

Dictionary Entries Near dastardly

Cite this Entry

“Dastardly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dastardly. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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