evil

adjective
\ˈē-vəl, British often and US sometimes ˈē-(ˌ)vil\
eviler or eviller; evilest or evillest

Definition of evil 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : morally reprehensible : sinful, wicked an evil impulse

b : arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct a person of evil reputation

2a archaic : inferior

b : causing discomfort or repulsion : offensive an evil odor

c : disagreeable woke late and in an evil temper

3a : causing harm : pernicious the evil institution of slavery

b : marked by misfortune : unlucky

evil

noun

Definition of evil (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : the fact of suffering, misfortune, and wrongdoing

b : a cosmic evil force

2 : something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity

evil

adverb

Definition of evil (Entry 3 of 3)

archaic

: in an evil manner

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Other Words from evil

Adjective

evil adverb archaic
evilly \ˈē-​və(l)-​lē, British often and US sometimes ˈē-​(ˌ)vi(l)-​ \ adverb
evilness \ˈē-​vəl-​nəs, British often and US sometimes ˈē-​(ˌ)vil-​ \ noun

Examples of evil in a Sentence

Adjective

She drank an evil potion. The city has fallen on evil days. It was an evil omen.

Noun

the battle of good versus evil our free will allows us to choose between good and evil
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But remember: Bose–Einstein condensates are not evil. Thilo Stöferle, Ars Technica, "The science of Spectral: Is that really how Bose–Einstein condensate behaves?," 18 July 2017 President Donald Trump so craves to have the evil mainstream media love him. vanityfair.com, "Trump’s Emotional Roller Coaster Jumps the Tracks," 17 July 2017 John Robert Lindsey made a properly evil Monostatos (a dead ringer for the vampire Nosferatu), accompanied by terrifying dogs rather than slaves. Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati.com, "'The Magic Flute' a surreal visual extravaganza," 16 July 2017 The morning babble Trump & Friends was back in full post-holiday boosterish mode, bashing the evil mainstream media for suggesting President Trump might be pandering in comments about a British child with the rare illness. The Hive, "New York Not Impressed By Rahm Emanuel’s Gloating," 5 July 2017 Pamina has the short bob hairdo of flapper-era star Louise Brooks, the birdcatcher is a Buster Keaton-style Papageno and the evil Monostatos reminds of Nosferatu. Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati.com, "Making magic with an animated 'Magic Flute'," 6 July 2017 Madigan performed his evil genius tax raising act — with the 15 craven Republicans — in early July, not June. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "No shortage of people standing tall in the face of little support," 5 July 2017 The Master's return isn't blockbuster enough for me, even with the good versus evil Superman III undertones in his cheeky exchanges with Missy. Kelly Fiveash, Ars Technica, "Doctor Who review: Time tumbles out of control in The Doctor Falls," 3 July 2017 Well, not evil, really, but more bureaucratic, legalistic b.s. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Data Sheet—Friday, June 30, 2017," 30 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sergio Bortolotti, a 5 Star Movement supporter, says forming a coalition with the League was ‘the lesser evil' compared with allying with other parties. Giovanni Legorano, WSJ, "Italy’s New Masters Rattle EU, But Ordinary Italians Say ‘Benissimo’," 17 Nov. 2018 This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe, and frankly, something that is unimaginable. Alex Ward, Vox, "Trump calls the Pittsburgh shooting “anti-Semitic” and a “wicked act of mass murder”," 27 Oct. 2018 Also, how lots of people are pure evil and have to die. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Assassination Nation is a vicious, cathartic horror film about misogyny," 21 Sep. 2018 Not all Republicans are racist, just not all Democrats are evil. Fox News, "Former Roger Stone aide challenges Mueller's authority," 17 Aug. 2018 In doing so, Trump has allowed his base to believe that taking children from their families is a necessary evil to secure the borders, and when pressed on why this is happening, the Trump administration merely shifts the blame to Congress. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Jeff Sessions Explaining How the Trump Administration Is Not Like Nazi Germany Is Peak Dumpster Fire," 19 June 2018 And consumers can't be blamed for wondering which side is the lesser evil: the giant telecommunication companies or the tech titans of Silicon Valley. The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board, sacbee, "The fight for net neutrality isn’t just for consumers. It’s a fight for California," 15 June 2018 Budgeting is a necessary evil in Del Pilar's world. Maggie Gordon, Houston Chronicle, "How one Houston high school is dealing with HISD budget cuts," 12 June 2018 Lawmakers in Europe this week restated its inflexible stance on corporate data responsibility — part of the reason some services have decided shutting up shop for EU citizens, even temporarily, is the lesser of two evils. Fortune, "Blocking 500 Million Users Is Easier Than Complying With GDPR," 25 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'evil.' 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 evil

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for evil

Adjective

Middle English, from Old English yfel; akin to Old High German ubil evil

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Statistics for evil

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Time Traveler for evil

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

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More Definitions for evil

evil

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of evil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: morally bad

: causing harm or injury to someone

: marked by bad luck or bad events

evil

noun

English Language Learners Definition of evil (Entry 2 of 2)

: the force of things that are morally bad

: something that is harmful or bad

evil

adjective
\ˈē-vəl \

Kids Definition of evil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : morally bad : wicked an evil influence

2 : causing harm : tending to injure an evil spell

evil

noun

Kids Definition of evil (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that brings sorrow, trouble, or destruction the evils of poverty

2 : the fact of suffering or wrongdoing We must rid the world of evil.

3 : bad behavior or moral state : wickedness … Mr. Lapham had discovered the evil that had gone on in his absence …— Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain

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More from Merriam-Webster on evil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with evil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for evil

Spanish Central: Translation of evil

Nglish: Translation of evil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of evil for Arabic Speakers

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